Interview with Dr. Ulrich Reinhardt, Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen


The era of the ego has come to an end

Dr. Ulrich Reinhardt The return of reliability, mutual responsibility and a need for the meaning of life – Dr. Ulrich Reinhardt, director of the Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen, an initiative of British American Tobacco, believes that the most significant change in values for 30 years is on its way.

The latest research project of the BAT foundation is dealing with the future hopes of the Europeans. How did it come to this topic? What was the reason for it?

Dr. Ulrich Reinhardt: The world has changed. The ideals of a wealth and adventure seeking society are making room for realistic disillusions. Value and structure changes in the Western world have led to a refocus from the standard of living to the quality of life. Therefore, questions about the future and the meaning of life have to be rephrased. During the last 40 years the mutual trust of people has declined dramatically due to constant changes regarding all aspects of life. Today, people are moving closer together again. A positive attitude towards life is prevailing. Our study aims to examine and compare the hopes of the Europeans. What are Europeans looking for? And how do their hopes and longings vary?

What was the sample of your survey?
Our survey has been conducted in 9 different European countries. In each country we respectively surveyed 2,000 people using the same method and asking the exact same questions. This ensures us to receive reliable results that are entirely comparable.

Will there be a revival of conservative values like trust, reliability and obligation/commitment? Has the age of the ego come to an end?

The most significant change in values for 30 years is on its way: The return of reliability and mutual responsibility as a response to insecurity and loss of faith. The era of the ego has come to an end. Taking on responsibility is becoming more important than fulfilling oneself. The need for a meaning of life, for stability and for a spiritual home is increasing. People are not only interested in a better society but also contribute to a better society in order to shape the future themselves.

And how will the significance of the family change?

In times of insecurity, where unemployment and terrorism can be a constant threat, people are moving closer together and refocus on stability in life. Of course, this is also positively affecting the significance of the family. When the meaning of life is fading people struggle to live an enjoyable life. As mentioned before, the trend of individualisation has passed its prime. The majority of the young people are rediscovering values, such as consistency and reliability. They are realizing that looking after children or a family can be more fulfilling over time than just thinking of oneself. A family can give the feeling of being needed and supported – a remedy for boredom, loneliness and uselessness.

You are a keynote speaker at the European Futurist conference in Lucerne. What can we look forward to hearing?

This is a very good question. I am also curious. We are still waiting for the last results, which we will only receive a few days before the conference.

Dr. Ulrich Reinhardt, born in 1970, has been working for Bri-tish American Tobacco since 1998. This year BAT founded the «Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen» foundation and appointed Rein-hardt as managing director of the foundation. 
His main area of research is social change and German behavi-our (e.g. in relation to leisure, consumerism and tourism and artificial worlds of experience). He is the author of numerous publications, and his latest books are called «Altersträume” – Illusion und Wirklichkeit» (Dreams of the old age – illusion and reality), «Edutainment – Bildung macht Spass» (Edutainment – education is fun) and «Freizeitwirtschaft – Die Leitökonomie der Zukunft» (The leisure industry – the leading economy of the future). Reinhardt is a member of different consultancy groups both at home and abroad and is assistant lecturer at various universities and colleges.


Prof. Ulrich Reinhardt, Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen 
Keynote Speaker «Future Hopes and Fears of the European»,
Culture and Convention Centre KKL, Lucerne, Switzerland

November 20, 2007; 14.25 h


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