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Open access

The Case of Germany

Civil Society and Civic Activism in the Pandemic

Susann Worschech


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.

Open access

The Case of India

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.

Open access

The Case of Italy

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.

Open access

The Case of Japan

How COVID-19 Impacted the Procurement and Lives of Migrant Healthcare Workers

Mario Ivan López and Shun Ohno


This article offers an analysis of the impact of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic in Japan with regard to the healthcare sector. With unprecedented pressure from a rapidly aging population, state-sponsored initiatives have created new migration streams from Southeast Asia, diversifying attempts to procure healthcare personnel to address labor shortages. The article analyzes the recent evolution of this supply chain nexus and how it was reconfigured during the pandemic. It also highlights the fragile dependency that Japan now has on an emergent nexus with surrounding countries and the strategies it has taken to ameliorate the vagaries of the ongoing pandemic.

Open access

The Case of Pakistan

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.

Open access

The Case of South Africa

The Societal Impact of COVID-19

Krish Chetty


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.

Open access

The Case of the United Kingdom

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.

Open access

The Case of the United States

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.

Open access

The Case of the United States (2)

Reframing the COVID-19 Crisis as a Problem

Iva A. Terwilliger, Kevin J. O'Leary, and Julie K. Johnson


Often when a problem is identified, it is quickly labeled and the process of looking for solutions starts. However, we should spend just as much time thinking about the problem itself. But what exactly should we focus on? Taking the time to think through and reframe problems leads to better problem-solving. The COVID-19 pandemic has been called a global crisis, and rightly so. Yet, there is something to be learned from framing it as a problem, or a series of problems, that provides us with an opportunity to look for different solutions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals experienced staff turnover, and some nurses even left their jobs to become travel nurses. Clinical staffing challenges provide an example of how reframing may have led to better problem-solving.

Open access

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Climate Change

Expressions of Global Ecological and Societal Misbalances

Harry G. J. Nijhuis and Laurent J.G. van der Maesen

In these reflections, instead of just summarizing the contributions on the societal impact of COVID-19 in the countries discussed in this thematic issue, we develop considerations on the nature of its substance and various related methodological issues. This is based especially on the outcomes of Working Paper 17 of the International Association on Social Quality (IASQ 2019) and the study about the conditions for interdisciplinary research in the natural sciences, in the human sciences, and between both fields of knowledge (Westbroek et al. 2020). Both documents were available for the authors of this issue's articles. For understanding the overwhelming COVID-19 pandemic as well the increasing challenges caused by climate change, bio-degeneration, and the ongoing pollution of nature, new steps for bridging the natural and the human sciences are a conditio sine qua non for understanding the complexity of the multidimensionality of critical situations that demand comprehensive approaches.