The impact of socio-political trade-offs on solidary behaviour and attitudes

Since the inception of the COVID-19 crisis, political actors reiterate their claim for solidarity considering it as a central condition for the success of the mitigating measures. The WP bases on the definition of solidarity by Sangiovanni (2015) as a joint action to overcome an adversity, relying on a shared goal and the disposition to incur significant costs for that. Following this definition, the WP argues that the costs for overcoming the COVID 19 crisis are extraordinarily high due to the fact that the degree to which citizens have to resign from their autonomy and political freedom is unprecedented, as well as the expected loss for the German economy and the implications for the individual citizens. The disposition to solidary action of German citizens is confronted with a difficult choice as the governments (Federal and Länder) demand solidarity as well as the acceptance of the limitation of democratic freedoms - imposing “stress for democracy” as Chancellor Merkel put it (Merkel 23.4.2020). For the analysis, the project relies on the analytic categories of solidarity suggested by Stjerno (2009, 2011): the sources of solidarity and the degree in which collective interests pre-empt individual interests. Thus, the concrete motives (sources) and the concrete disposition for resigning individual rights (scope) of solidary action are examined as well as possible changes during the above outlined three phases of the COVID-19 crisis. The main research question is: Why and how far are citizens disposed to a solidary sacrifice in favour of others and thus curb their individual rights as citizens in a democracy?

Sangiovanni A. (2015) 'Solidarity as Joint Action', Journal of Applied Philosophy, 32(4), 340–59.
Stjernø S. (2009) Solidarity in Europe: The history of an idea (Cambridge University Press).
Stjernø S. (2011) 'The idea of solidarity in Europe', European Journal of Social Law, 1(3), 156–76.

University of Hildesheim, Institute for Social Sciences / Prof. Dr. Marianne Kneuer