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“More alert and more attentive”

The world after corona: Jutta Allmendinger hopes for a more caring and more democratic society.

Interview: Helen Sibum, 17.04.2020
Soziologin Jutta Allmendinger
Soziologin Jutta Allmendinger © WZB/David Ausserhofer

The sociologist Jutta Allmendinger has worked for years with the Legacy Study conducting research into how Germans tick. We asked the President of the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) whether society will be different after the corona pandemic.

Ms Allmendinger, how will Germany be different in April 2021 compared to the time before the corona crisis?

I’m sure Germany will have changed. How much it changes and in what respects is something we will all be deciding over the coming weeks. I would hope we become more alert, more attentive and more caring and behave in a European and democratic way.

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At the moment there’s a lot of talk about solidarity and a sense of unity in the crisis – what elements of that will remain?

That depends on how much policymakers, the media and civil society learn now and put into practice. It does citizens good when greater trust is placed in them. Many processes are operating less bureaucratically, and authorities are working proactively and protecting people. Just think, for example, of tenants’ improved protection against eviction and the swift financial support measures. The media are currently focusing less on the nadirs of human behaviour and imperfection and instead more often reporting on positive things: about citizens who keep to the new rules or about hospitals where the emergency service functions well. That also has a healing effect. And people that previously never had anything to do with one another clap their hands together every evening for medical staff and thank everyone who is giving their energy and their health for those who have been infected.


I’m sure that many business trips will no longer be needed, that many meetings will be conducted digitally in the future.
Sociologist Jutta Allmendinger

Will the crisis deliver a boost to digitalisation and especially to digital education?

That is something I would put the fewest question marks against. Most of those who have the privilege of being able to work from home have now practised dealing with digital networking on a daily basis. Companies have made purchases, bought licences. I’m sure that many business trips will no longer be needed, that many employee meetings will be conducted digitally in the future. A similar thing applies to digital education and further training. We are working at full steam on online teaching for all age groups. That will remain. Nevertheless, we will continue to meet for discussions and follow-up.