Solidarity in Times of Pandemics

in Democratic Theory
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  • 1 University of Vienna, Austria, and King's College London, UK barbara.prainsack@univie.ac.at
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Abstract

This short article discusses how the COVID-19 crisis has affected solidarity. It starts by defining solidarity in such a way that it can be distinguished from other types of support and pro-social practice, and by arguing that solidarity can manifest itself at three different levels: at the inter-personal level, the group level, or at the level of legal and contractual norms. Drawing upon findings from two ongoing studies on personal and societal effects of the COVID-19 crisis, I then go on to argue that, while forms of inter-personal solidarity have been shifting even during the first weeks and months of the crisis, the importance of institutionalized solidarity is becoming increasingly apparent. The most resilient societies in times of COVID-19 have not been those with the best medical technology or the strictest pandemic containment measures, but those with good public infrastructures and other solidaristic institutions.

Contributor Notes

Barbara Prainsack is a professor and director at the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Solidarity (CeSCoS), Department of Political Science, University of Vienna and a professor at the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine at King's College London. Her work explores the social, ethical, and regulatory dimensions of genetic and data-driven practices and technologies in biomedicine and forensics. Barbara is currently a member of the National Bioethics Commission in Austria, and a member of the European Group on Ethics of Science and New Technologies advising the European Commission. Her latest books are: Personalized Medicine: Empowered Patients in the 21st Century? (New York University Press, 2017), and Solidarity in Biomedicine and Beyond (with A. Buyx, Cambridge University Press, 2016). E-mail: barbara.prainsack@univie.ac.at

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