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Open access

A politicized ecology of resilience

Redistributive land reform and distributive justice in the COVID-19 pandemic

Jonathan DeVore

Abstract

Brazil has endured multiple political, economic, and environmental crises—and now the COVID-19 pandemic—which have drawn social inequalities into razor sharp relief. This contribution analyzes the resilience of rural families facing these crises in southern Bahia. These families have benefited from various redistributive policies over the years, including redistributive land reforms (RLRs), conditional cash transfers (CCTs), and recent emergency aid (EA) payments related to the pandemic. Each (re)distributive approach involves different notions of distributive justice informed by competing background theories of “the good,” which hold implications for concepts of resilience. Drawing on long-term research with RLR communities in Bahia, this article considers the gains achieved by different redistributive programs. Families who acquired land through RLR projects appear more resilient, especially in the face of crisis.

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Social Solidarity during the Pandemic

The Israeli Experience

Nir Atmor, Yaffa Moskovich, and Ido Liberman

Abstract

Social solidarity is the conscious and voluntary affinity between human beings that instills in them a sense of guaranteed mutual assistance. Israeli society has long been characterized as having a high level of national solidarity, especially in times of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 put this notion to the test. The lack of agreement about fundamental norms of civil society in general and the nature of Israeli democracy in particular questioned the interdependence of its communities. This study examines the pandemic's effect on the sense of social solidarity in Israel. Using a quantitative approach and a representative sample of the adult population, the results show that the pandemic did affect the sense of solidarity. Moreover, taking into account long-standing religious and ideological cleavages in Israel, the pandemic exacerbated existing divisions among different groups.

Open access

Starting university during the COVID-19 pandemic

A small-scale study of first-year education students’ expectations, experiences and preferences

Marc Turu, Tom van Rossum, and Nicole Gridley

Abstract

In early 2020, universities across the world ceased face-to-face teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This article explores the experiences of first-year UK university students during this time. Four main themes were identified in the data. Regarding course delivery, students valued the flexibility of blended learning, which involved attending some live sessions while working on others in their own time. Student interaction was mentioned to be critical for learning and how the use of webcams and breakout rooms can facilitate or hinder it. Regarding staff, continuous communication, availability and online drop-ins were highly valued and had a positive impact on satisfaction. Finally, while students benefitted from a coherent use of online tools provided by the university, they also valued the flexibility of using less-regulated tools, including social media.

Open access

Exploring the Digital Revolution in Education in India during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Shivi Grover and Leemamol Mathew

Abstract

One important response to COVID-19 was the intensification of the use of digital media to deliver education. However, the results are paradoxical, since the digital revolution did not lead to improvement of the social quality of teachers’ working circumstances. We analyze “internal” or subjective oriented constitutional and “external” or objective orientated conditional factors related to teachers that determine the adaptation of digitalization, taking a social quality perspective. Through a case study in the most advanced educational hub of India—Delhi—we find that the digital revolution helped India to address the first-order problems in digital transformation, namely concerning objective infrastructural facilities. The second-order problems, particularly changing the subjective belief structures of teachers related to the integration of technologies, appear to remain a challenge. As India has recently adopted a new education policy (2020), the findings of our study have significant relevance to improving the accessibility and utilization of digital technology in educational spaces.

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Illness, Metaphor, and Bells

Campanology under COVID-19

Remi Chiu

Abstract

Throughout 2020 and 2021, bells have rung in a variety of COVID-related rituals in the West, ranging from large-scale religious and civic rites, to ad hoc neighborhood and hospital initiatives, to anti-racist memorials that simultaneously spoke to the health crisis at hand. Taking stock of how these COVID bell-ringing rituals were formalized, their structures and actions, and the historical precedents from which they drew their meanings, this article investigates what the sounds of bells and the rituals of bell-ringing communicated about COVID, how they shaped our personal and collective experiences of the crisis, and what functions they were expected to serve during this liminal period. It reveals how, owing to the historical polysemy of bells on the one hand and the social uncertainties of living with COVID on the other, those rituals generated vivid symbolisms and mobilized powerful emotions that sometimes brought about unintended consequences.

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The Pandemic Factor

The COVID-19 Crisis in the Alternative for Germany's 2021 Federal Election Campaign

Lars Rensmann and Thijs de Zee

Abstract

This article examines how and why the covid-19 pandemic featured as a central issue in the Alternative for Germany's 2021 Bundestag election campaign. Using a wide range of political communication tools, the radical right party's opposition to public health policies against the pandemic ranged from a critique of hygienic measures to hosting coronavirus denialism and conspiracy myths suggesting that “the elite” had manufactured “corona hysteria” to subjugate the German people. Mirroring its general radicalization process toward an anti-system movement party, the AfD's campaign primarily gave voice to an ideologically driven, conspiracist, and authoritarian-nationalist core electorate, which has its center of gravity in the East. In the environment of an emerging “pandemic divide,” the party also sought to appeal to a robust minority of corona skeptics. More generally, the AfD's campaign points to the still underresearched role of science denialism and conspiracy myths in radical right mobilizations of a counterfactual age.

Open access

Technological Inequality and Social Exclusion of Older People during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Anna Tsetoura

Abstract

The digital transformation of contemporary societies may already have been seen by older people as an obstacle; during the pandemic, however, great emphasis was given to technology. The purpose of this article is to illustrate the phenomenon of social exclusion of older people, linked to their vulnerability and the “COVID circumstances” and shaped by the various measures imposed by different countries to limit physical contact, which led to technological inequality. The findings emphasize the isolation of the elderly and their non-use or insufficient use of health services and long-term care services. Further implications relate to socioeconomic costs arising from the inefficient treatment of their needs regarding their physical and “technological” vulnerability. The article concludes with considerations of the importance of distinct—both individually and collectively oriented—approaches to create better social conditions that will enhance technological equality for the elderly.

Open access

Adapting to Crisis

Migration Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Aydan Greatrick, Jumana Al-Waeli, Hannah Sender, Susanna Corona Maioli, Jin L. Li, and Ellen Goodwin

Abstract

This article draws on our experiences of carrying out PhD research on migration during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all involved with the University College London Migration Research Unit (MRU), and our PhD research explores the lived experiences of migrants and people affected by migration. This is the first of two articles in this issue of Migration and Society addressing the implications of COVID-19 on migration research from the perspective of postgraduate researchers. In this article, we firstly reflect on how “crises,” including the COVID-19 pandemic, inevitably shape contexts of migration research. We then share how COVID-19 has shaped our relationship to “the field” and our formal research institutions. Finally, we share how we have adapted our methodologies in response to COVID-19 and, considering the complex ethical and practical challenges posed by this context, reflect on what it means to make methodological “adaptations” in times of overlapping crises.

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The Coronavirus as Nature-Culture

Talking about Agency

Annette Schnabel and Bettina Ülpenich

Abstract

We analyze how the coronavirus is fabricated at the interface between science and the public in order to be addressable by political strategies. By means of a content analysis of Christian Drosten's podcasts, we follow (1) how SARS-CoV-2 is constructed in order to be understood by non-scientists, (2) how the specialist becomes a public expert, and (3) how this co-fabrication takes place. This provides insight into the “fabrication” of meaning and of how uncertainty is transformed into knowledge during times of major risk through focusing on the perception of the virus itself. Out of a perspective of speech act theory-informed assemblage thinking, the analysis emphasizes the role of the known-unknown and of the temporality of developments in formatting both virus and expert.

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Flânerie in the Time of Covid-19

French Journalistic References to Bookstore Strolling and Fashion Walking

Marylaura Papalas

Abstract

Flânerie, or the practice of urban strolling described in nineteenth-century French print and visual culture, has evolved throughout modernity, expanding its reach into more global literary traditions and becoming an important topic of research in numerous fields of academic study. Various phenomena have shaped the evolution of how we walk in the city and how artists, essayists, and journalists record it, none more so than the forced lockdowns associated with the global Covid-19 pandemic. Journalists in France invented expressions like flânerie inversée, impossible flânerie, and librairie flânerie to describe new city practices. They looked to figures like the fashion flâneuse on the catwalk as a means of sublimating the stillness and monotony of the coronavirus confinement. This article traces the emergence between March 2020 and April 2021of these variations in shopping and fashion contexts, which underscore the enduring legacy of the practice and its everlasting presence in French culture.