Government responses to COVID-19 have dramatically altered the social quality of daily circumstances. Consequently, theoretical questions about social cohesion require recalibration as we explore new models of social quality. Central to this article is trust, one of the fundamental tenets of social cohesion. We present data from interviews with 40 women in midlife (45–64 years) regarding their everyday experiences of “life in lockdown” during the pandemic. Key themes focus on women’s (dis)trust in individuals (e.g., politicians, public health experts, family, themselves) and systems (e.g., politics, medicine, the media). This study provides insights into the differential impact of the pandemic in shaping public trust and hence social cohesion—in authority, institutions, and “each other”—with important lessons for how future efforts can rebuild trust in post-pandemic times.
Trust During Pandemic Uncertainty—A Qualitative Study of Midlife Women in South Australia
Paul R. Ward, Belinda Lunnay, Kristen Foley, Samantha B. Meyer, Jessica Thomas, Ian Olver, and Emma R. Miller
Coloniality and Pandemic Misgovernance as Necropolitical Tools in the Amazon
Vanessa Boanada Fuchs
This article analyzes the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of the Amazonian populations of Brazil. Following the social quality approach, it inquires into how COVID-19 intertwined with and reinforced underlying trends and inequalities in different life domains expressed in long-term societal complexities, urban–rural dynamics, and environmental transformations. The article finds that the pandemic, following coloniality of power patterns, has been instrumentalized as a necropolitical tool, and has disproportionately impacted certain peoples and territories based on ethnoracial bias. The collapse of the local health system in the State of Amazonas is a systemic burden, not serendipity. A dialogue is proposed between decolonial and social quality approaches to analyze, unveil, and denounce the interplay between the coloniality of power patterns in non-Western contexts.
The Societal Impact of the “Whole of Government Approach”
Wang Jing and Wang Xue
This article describes, from a sociopolitical, socioeconomic, and sociocultural perspective, the governance practices of the COVID-19 epidemic control response in China. We describe that, in line with the “whole of government approach,” strong resource mobilization and control of government departments, companies, and citizen communities has worked efficiently to rapidly contain the epidemic. Community participation at the grassroots level has played a decisive part. We assume that the deeply rooted collectivistic Chinese culture has made residents trust the government’s decisions and comply with the prevention and control strategies. We pose some intriguing questions for more analytical comparative research. They concern the normative interpretation of the influences of sociopolitical, economic, and cultural forces, as well as the balance between “collectivism” and “individualism” in societies.
Civil Society and Civic Activism in the Pandemic
Has the pandemic weakened civil society and hindered activism and volunteering due to long-lasting restrictions and bans on meetings, protests, and the like? Or have civil society actors been able to respond to these fundamental changes? This is explored here in the case of Germany. Neither weakness nor strength can be deemed a clear outcome of the pandemic for civil society, but different levels of resilience mark opportunities for civil society to overcome the pandemic. Resilience also affects democracy; therefore, the development of civil society during and after the pandemic is investigated in terms of how it has influenced democracy in Germany. This article is based on findings on civic activism resulting from long-term surveys and volunteering conducted prior to the pandemic, together with present and preliminary observations.
A Moral Foundation for the Impact of COVID-19 on Health and Society in the World’s Largest Democracy
Sony Pellissery, Vijay Paul, Khushi Srivastava, and Drishti Ranjan
A segmented healthcare system evolved in India by 1990s, whereby the rich population depended on private hospitals while the people at the bottom of the economic pyramid went to the poor-quality public hospitals. In a democracy of equals, unequal access to services became political when COVID-19 began to put pressure on the health system. Corruption that was normalized in a segmented healthcare system could no longer be ignored. To advance the framework of social quality, we examine the corruption that unfolded during the pandemic in India from the perspective of moral foundation theory. We study the issues raised by political parties during the pandemic and court directives responding to citizen grievances. The evidence shows there was inequality of access and that courts had to intervene to try to rectify the situation. In the absence of effective governmental intervention during the pandemic, moral norms become a useful explanatory factor for social quality.
The Societal Impact of COVID-19 in a Fragmented Society
Jan Martin Rossi
The present article makes use of aspects of social quality theory and the social quality approach to assess the impact of the Italian government’s efforts to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government has a critical role in mitigating the effects of the pandemic; however, the scope and efficacy of its interventions depend on the interplay of processes in four main dimensions: (1) sociopolitical and legal; (2) socioeconomic and financial; (3) sociocultural and welfare; and (4) socioenvironmental and ecological. By analyzing relevant processes in these four dimensions, I aim to understand whether the social quality in Italy has increased or decreased due to the pandemic. The fragmentation in the labor market, in healthcare governance, as well as in societal protection have strongly constrained the government interventions, leaving intact and crystallizing existing societal inequalities.
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Perceived Well-Being of Displaced Households
Fariya Hashmat, Ahmad Nawaz, Tony Bradley, and Asad Ghalib
This article represents a qualitative investigation of the vulnerabilities of displaced households in Pakistan caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The analyses are conducted through the lens of social quality theory and the social quality approach according to four societal dimensions that condition household life chances. Our findings reveal that these households reflect a reversal of the sustainable development cycle. They are at risk of being economically unstable, being unable to gain new skills, falling into absolute poverty, increased morbidity rates, and disrupted education. The most severe form of deprivation is the disruption of their networks of social cohesion, leading to greater isolation and marginalization; this is especially true for women and children. The Pakistani government must take immediate and substantive action to improve the situations of these most vulnerable of households.
The Societal Impact of COVID-19
Multiple crises have emerged in South Africa in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. General well-being is in severe danger from the immediate effects of the virus and the longer-term impact of hunger due to a growing economic crisis. While the working-class majority struggle, there is a political struggle for political power playing out among factions in the ruling party. These tensions flared up in the wake of President Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment in July 2021, leading to widespread unrest and destruction. These experiences point to a failing economic system that neglected the poor. If this neglect continues, then this unrest may continue. In making this argument, I base my analysis upon the views of political luminaries such as Neville Alexander, Archie Mafeje, and Roger Southall. Their views are linked to the experiences of many South Africans during the pandemic.
Mapping Localism, Resilience, and Civic Activism in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Tony Bradley, Issam Malki, Curtis Ziniel, and Asad Ghalib
This article explores the determinants of local resilience in the form of local COVID-19 mutual aid groups. These groups were formed to offer mutual help to those who had experienced a loss of social quality. We test a series of hypotheses, considering which conditional factors are most connected to the formation of these groups, particularly focusing on those that influenced the earliest and most resilient local response to the pandemic. The presence of radical environmentalist activists is a better predictor of resilient community responsiveness than either the activity of the local state or the activity of more moderate community-based environmental civil society organizations. Conclusions are presented on the implications of these findings for the future of localism, social quality, and public policy in the United Kingdom.
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Social Connectedness and Isolation in Low-Income Communities
Allison A. Parsons, Danielle Maholtz, Jamaica Gilliam, Haleigh Larson, Dan Li, Sophia J. Zhao, Brita Roy, and Carley Riley
Connectedness is vital for health and well-being. Families with lower socioeconomic status and of racial and ethnic minority groups experience inequities in social connections compared to families with higher income and of White race in the United States. We aimed to understand how families in lower-income neighborhoods experienced social connectedness and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic and if and how political, economic, and other societal factors influenced social connectedness. We conducted in-depth interviews with nineteen caregivers of young children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Participants had a decreased sense of social connectedness to family and friends but also across all aspects of their lives. The current crisis has exacerbated preexisting societal conditions within the United States. We can learn from these caregivers how best to bolster social connectedness and disrupt social isolation.