Solidarity in times of crisis: perceptions of deservingness during the pandemic in Switzerland

This new project considers the implications of the pandemic and of its economic fallout on perceptions of deservingness for different types of social rights. On the one hand, we study deservingness perceptions regarding two different domains of state help (services in the health care sector and access to social benefits for self-employed) and on the other hand we extend the deservingness framework to study whether particular groups of mobile individuals should be entitled to be (internationally) mobile and more specifically to be allowed access to Switzerland.

More precisely we identify three research areas where we want to make substantial and innovative contributions to the literature:

  • First, the pandemic and the possibility that there are insufficient healthcare resources, raises the issue of how to manage access to healthcare, in particular intensive care unit beds or vaccines. What principles do people rely upon when making these allocation decisions in a context of scarcity? What does the general public think of ethical guidelines as they are applied by medical societies (e.g. treatment decisions based on the health prognosis)? Does (im)migrant status or ethnicity matter in the allocation decision, and if yes in what ways?
  • Second, the economic consequences of the pandemic created a new group of people who are at risk of poverty and thus needing state support. These include selfemployed people and irregular workers. How deserving are these groups of people perceived to be? Again, does (im)migrant status or ethnicity matter regarding these deservingness perceptions? Are undeclared workers considered deserving of state help under the exceptional circumstances created by the pandemic?
  • Third, the pandemic has triggered a major reduction in international travel opportunities. Most countries in Europe and beyond have closed their borders for the majority of travellers, but not for everyone. Cross border mobility, in this context, becomes a “scarce” good. How is it allocated? Who deserves to be mobile (and allowed to enter Switzerland) in the context of the pandemic?




Project team


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