iHub is a part of

Solidarity in times of a pandemic

Solidarity in times of a pandemic: What do people do, and why? A European comparative study.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges for policymakers, public health officials, and societies. The social and economic effects are likely to be felt for years to come. This situation calls for an examination of how people react to policy measures that have been introduced, and what actions they take on their own initiative over and above the official advice by governments. What motivates people to follow, or ignore, the advice of public authorities? What role do digital technologies play in fostering solidaristic practices? What, or who, do people trust in these uncertain times? Can we identify policy measures, or approaches, that are more or less successful in motivating people to follow them? We plan to examine these important questions comprising of qualitative research methods (online interviews) within an international research consortium (host: Vienna University). The project benefits from a comparative and rigorous methodological approach that will give insights on pandemic response in six countries: the United Kingdom (UK), Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy (with potentially other EU countries being added later in the process). iHub will conduct the data collection and analysis for the Dutch arm of the study. Using a qualitative research design, we will explore what advice people follow or ignore, and why, in selected EU countries. We will also seek to identify actions that diverge from, and in some cases go above and beyond, official government advice as we expect to hear about a range of examples of how individuals protect themselves and support others in these testing times. The comparative focus of our study will yield particularly revealing insights as we can map people’s behaviors against different crisis management strategies that the UK, Austrian, German, Belgian, Dutch and Italian governments, for example, have taken. :fa-link: Project websiteHighlights Lotje Siffels and Tamar Sharon are co-authors on Lucivero et al. (2021) Normative positions towards COVID-19 contact-tracing apps: Findings from a large-scale qualitative study in nine European countries. Critical Public Health. Lotje Siffels and Tamar Sharon published an essay in the philosophy blog Bij Nader Inzien. Zimmerman, B. et al. (2022). Democratic research: Setting up a research commons for a qualitative, comparative and longitudinal interview study during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Science and Medicine – Qualitative Research in Health..

project logo

research lines

  • solidarity & justice


  • University of Vienna
  • Technical University of Munich
  • Oxford University
  • LSE
  • Kings College London
  • KU Leuven (Life Sciences & Society Lab)


Interdiciplinary research hub on digitalization and society