Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda

+49 (0)441 798 - 4483

Postal Address

Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg
Faculty VI Medicine and Health Services
Department of Health Services Research
Division for Ethics in Medicine
Ammerländer Heerstr. 114-118
D-26129 Oldenburg


Visiting Address

Campus Haarentor, Buildung V04
Ammerländer Heerstraße 140 
D-26129 Oldenburg

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The Future of Intergenerational Solidarity beyond the Pandemic: Empirically-Informed Ethical Analysis and Public Deliberation (FuturISE)

Project Description

The COVID-19 pandemic can be seen as a multidimensional "stress test" for intergenerational solidarity. It has sparked controversy in various countries about the moral relationships and responsibilities between generations. While some invoked the notion of solidarity to justify population-wide restrictive measures to protect older people, others expected the elderly to isolate themselves to enable them to return to normal social life as soon as possible. Elsewhere, political reactions varied from an initial strategy of herd immunity to a policy of isolation and social distancing to a far-reaching suspension of restrictive measures. The associated public debates touch on fundamental questions of social cohesion and the legitimacy of moral and legal claims. In view of further challenges that are changing the future horizon of European societies, such as the war in Ukraine, demographic change and the climate crisis, such questions are becoming increasingly important.

The project aims at a comparative socio-empirical exploration, moral-philosophical clarification and public deliberation of ideas and conceptions of intergenerational solidarity in Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Based on the experiences of the pandemic, the aim is the empirically informed, participatory development of morally acceptable and socially sustainable visions for the future of intergenerational relations at both national and transnational levels.

The results can thus not only contribute to a better understanding of fundamental moral relationships between generations from a social science and moral philosophy perspective, but also make these insights directly tangible for the future.


Methodological Approach

The project combines empirical social research, moral philosophical analysis and public deliberation. In a first explorative phase, a mixed-methods approach will be used to shed light on the range of public interpretations and assessments of intergenerational solidarity in the pandemic in Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom and to highlight national differences. To this end, political statements, ethical recommendations and media discourses during the pandemic are analyzed. In addition, ten stakeholder interviews and eight focus groups with the wider population will be conducted in each country. The resulting hypotheses will then be examined in a comprehensive online survey in each country (n=3600/country). In a second evaluative phase, we analyze the values and norms underlying the moral and political positions and attitudes towards intergenerational solidarity from an ethical perspective. Based on a systematizing characterization and classification of the different understandings of intergenerational solidarity, we conduct a detailed analysis of the qualitative and quantitative socio-empirical data collected. In a third participatory phase, the results of the preceding studies will be fed into a public deliberative process that is intended to contribute to the (re-)negotiation of moral relations between the generations in Europe.

Project Team

The research questions are pursued in an interdisciplinary and international project consortium. The overall coordination of the project lies with Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda (Department of Ethics in Medicine, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg). Further PIs are Dr. Larissa Pfaller (Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg), Prof. Dr. Andreas Motel-Klingebiel (Linköping University, Sweden) and Prof. Dr. Paul Higgs (University College London, United Kingdom). 

Besides Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda as project coordinator and PI of the project and Niklas Ellerich-Groppe as researcher from the predecessor project PRISMAE, two PhD-positions are established at the Division of Ethics in Medicine.


The project is funded with approx. 1,3 million Euro by the VolkswagenFoundation. 

(Changed: 02 Jun 2024)  | 
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