Centre for the Study of Contemporary Solidarity (CeSCoS)

Making a difference through the study and practice of solidarity

Mission Statement:

The concept of solidarity can help to address the most pressing challenges that our societies are facing today. Rather than being a ‘feel-good’ notion or a concept of the past, we use solidarity as a structuring principle for practices and institutions. Our research - through empirically solid and conceptually rich work - seeks to contribute to the development and policies and institutions that harness and support people’s willingness to support others, increase social justice, and help to create the political and economic circumstances that allow people and societies to flourish. We act in the firm belief that we can only address today’s challenges with more solidarity, not less.

Director: Barbara Prainsack

Barbara Prainsack is Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna. Prior to moving to Vienna she worked at King’s College London for ten years, where she continues to hold a professorial affiliation at the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine as her secondary affiliation. Barbara’s research focuses on regulatory, social and ethical aspects of biomedicine and bioscience, often by bringing marginalised and peripheral perspectives into regulatory debates. Her current projects explore the political meaning and effect of participatory practices in medicine, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Together with Alena Buyx she also contributes to the formulation of new legal and ethical instruments in medicine and healthcare, promoting a solidarity-based perspective. Her most recent book is Personalized Medicine: Empowered Patients in the 21st Century? (NYU Press, 2017). Barbara is a member of the Austrian Bioethics Commission, a member of the European Group on Ethics and New Technologies advising the European Commission, and a member of the Ethics Group of the National DNA Database in the UK. Together with Aarno Palotie and Stephen Holgate she led the European Science Foundation's (ESF) Forward Look on Personalised Medicine for the European Citizen (2012). Barbara is a member of the British Royal Academy of Arts, and an elected foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.

Co-director (external): Alena Buyx

Alena Buyx is the director of the Institute for History and Ethics of Medicine at the Technical University Munich. Before that, she was Professor of Biomedical Ethics and Director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine at Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel. Prior to moving to Kiel, she held appointments at London, Münster and Harvard. Her research is in biomedical and public health ethics, with a particular focus on issues of governance and policy. Currently, Alena explores various issues in research ethics and examines participatory practices in medicine, often in the form of mixed-methods studies. She also works on the ethical implications of developing novel clinical applications, for example in the neurosciences. Together with Barbara Prainsack she also contributes to the formulation of new legal and ethical instruments in medicine, promoting a solidarity-based perspective. Their book Solidarity in Biomedicine and Beyond was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. Alena oversees clinical ethics advisory at Germany’s second-largest university hospital and regularly consults on research ethics, for example for the World Bank, or large European research consortia. She was a member of the Central Ethics Committee of the German Medical Association and currently is a member of the Advisory Board of European Forum Alpbach and the German Ethics Council.


Katharina Kieslich

Katharina Kieslich earned a PhD in Political Science from University College London (2015) and a Masters degree in Middle East Studies from the University of Exeter (2007). Her current research focuses on comparative health policy, public and patient involvement (PPI) in health priority-setting, social values in health prioritisation, and health technology assessment. Previous publications include 'Social values and health priority setting in Germany', 'Public participation in decision-making on the coverage of new antivirals for hepatitis C', 'Accounting for Technical, Ethical, and Political Factors in Priority Setting', and 'Cost effective but unaffordable: an emerging challenge for health systems'. As part of CeSCoS, Katharina explores the role of issue characteristics, i.e. the features of policy problems, in the allocation of health resources. Before joining the Department of Political Science in June 2018 Katharina was based at the School of Population Health and Environmental Sciences, King’s College London.

Mirjam Pot

Mirjam Pot holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Vienna (2010 and 2016) and a Master’s degree in Urban Geography from Utrecht University (2011). From 2016 to 2017, she was employed as a research assistant at the Department of Sociology at the University of Vienna, working in the field of Comparative Social Policy Research and International Urban Sociology. She has been a pre-doctoral research fellow at CeScoS since 2018. In her PhD project she uses interpretive methods to analyse practices of personalised medicine and their effects on conceptualisations and enactments of solidarity.

Lukas Schlögl

Lukas Schlögl earned a PhD in Quantitative Social Science from King’s College London (2017) and a Master’s (‘Magister’) degree in International Development from the University of Vienna (2013). His current work focuses on the interplay of technological change and political behaviour in developing countries. Previous publications include 'The Rise of the Robot Reserve Army', ‘Inequality and the Tails’, ‘A Household-Asset Approach to Social Stratification’ and ‘Politikkohärenz durch Kohärenzpolitik’. As part of CeSCoS, Lukas explores links between workplace automation and social and political behaviour. Before joining the Department of Political Science in October 2018 Lukas was based at the Department of International Development, King’s College London.

Wanda Spahl

Wanda Spahl earned her Master’s degree in Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy at Vienna University of Economics and Business (2017). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (2014) and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communication Studies (2013) from University of Vienna. In 2012, funded by a Danish Government Scholarship, she studied at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre in Copenhagen. In 2016 she conducted fieldwork in Ankara during her research stay at Bilkent University, studying mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion along the lines of gender, ethnicity, as well as legal economic status. She is a lead author of ‘Immigration and the Social Welfare State in Austria, Germany and Switzerland: A comparative meta-study’. As a pre-doctoral research fellow at CeSCoS Wanda analyses policies and practices pertaining to  health care access for refugees.

Please find information about the advisory board members here.

Solidarity Fellows:

Puneet Kishor

Puneet's interest in medical information began during the boom years for personal-fitness devices when a new gadget seemed to come out every other week in the Bay Area. As the Manager of Science and Data Policy at Creative Commons in San Francisco at that time, Puneet's data-worldview was of unstinted openness. With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Puneet brought together policy, technology, ethics and legal experts in Washington DC to focus on the tension between sharing medical data and preserving privacy. The consensus of the workshop was for dramatic change in the constraints of research funding to allow greater openness. Over the years, however, Puneet's enthusiasm for data sharing has been tempered by the cavalier collection and use of data by technology companies. While the power of technology to do good is undoubtable, it has to be checked by public participation and governance to limit harm. As a Research Fellow at CeSCoS, Puneet is focusing on the need and mechanisms for balance between sharing and privacy. He is currently based in Berlin where he divides his time between data policy and art+science.


An up-to-date record of all publications published by our research group is available here: http://barbaraprainsack.wordpress.com