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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.

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.

Open access

Introduction

Religious Rituals’ Reflection of Current Social Conditions in the Middle East

Ingvild Flaskerud

Abstract

Peoples’ practising of religious ritual is never isolated from the social and political setting in which it takes place. It is therefore inevitable that ritual practice somehow contends with the current social context. Examining Muslim ritual practices across the Middle East, the authors of the articles in this special issue discuss religious ritual as a tool for accomplishing something in the real world. They provide examples of which social concerns are addressed in ritual practice, who is involved and how the ritual practice is affected. The studies show that current ritual practices are embedded in multi-actor social spaces, and they also reflect on the ritual as a multi-actor space where the power to define ritual form, meaning and importance shifts between different categories of actors.

Open access

The Politics of Islamic Death Rituals in the COVID-19 Era

The Case of Egypt

Nadeem Ahmed Moonakal and Matthew Ryan Sparks

Abstract

Throughout the Islamic world, the era of COVID-19 has witnessed controversial changes to highly ritualised traditional Islamic funeral rites. To combat the pandemic in Egypt, the government and Al-Azhar implemented restrictions surrounding group prayer and burial which many Egyptians viewed as impinging on their religious duties as well as on their ability to mourn. Utilising participant observation, interviews, and deductive research, this article explores the social and anthropological ramifications involved in the modification of traditional Islamic burial rituals in the era of COVID-19 and the negotiations involved amongst different actors, looking specifically at cases in Egypt.

Open access

Reflecting on Crisis

Ethics of Dis/Engagement in Migration Research

Ioanna Manoussaki-Adamopoulou, Natalie Sedacca, Rachel Benchekroun, Andrew Knight, and Andrea Cortés Saavedra

Abstract

This article offers a collective “gaze from within” the process of migration research, on the effects the pandemic has had on our interlocutors, our research fields, and our positionalities as researchers. Drawing from our experiences of researching a field in increasing crisis, and following the methodological reflections of the article written by our colleagues in this issue, we discuss a number of dilemmas and repositionings stemming from—and extending beyond—the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on issues of positionality, ethics of (dis)engaging from the research field, and the underlying extractivist nature of Global North academia, we propose our own vision of more egalitarian and engaged research ethics and qualitative methodologies in the post-pandemic world.

Open access

The Societal Significance of Informal Economics during the COVID-19 Pandemic in an African City

Ebenezer Owusu-Sekyere, Hamdiyah Alhassan, Enock Jengre, Samuel Twumasi Amoah, Kwame Opare-Asamoah, and Alfred Toku

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic compelled many African countries to make decisions that limited livelihood choices. This article examines how informal traders (IT) in Kumasi, Ghana responded to the COVID-19. It explores the livelihood capacities, socioeconomic, sociocultural, and sociopolitical values of informal economics. Using data from multiple sources, the purchase and sale of personal protective equipment (PPE) emerged as the dominant livelihood activity. The results show that IT innovated their way of trading, realigned livelihood activities, and created cross-sectoral networks that enhanced social cohesion. The emerging informal market catalyzed spin-off activities that linked values of the informal sector to the public, distributing agencies, producing companies, and the government. We argue that IT constitute a “natural” and “indispensable” share of Ghana's urban economic, cultural, and governance space. The values of IT expressed within and between these distinct societal spheres should be amplified in the development discourses of countries like Ghana.

Open access

Teaching creative careers in the pandemic

A study of digital tools used by university instructors

Bexi Perdomo, María del Carmen Llontop Castillo, and Oscar Mas

Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the major concerns at the Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de América Latina (UCAL; the University of Sciences and Arts of Latin America) has been to keep offering high-quality education with effective teaching methodologies and creativity at its core. This article aims to describe and understand the use of digital tools for class preparation, synchronous encounters, storage, interaction, collaborative work and assessment by UCAL's instructors in creative careers. It finds that instructors were proactive about learning and using a variety of digital tools. Gamification apps and interactive boards were instructors’ favourites because they tended to motivate their students the most. No statistically significant associations were found between tool selection and course, sex, or age. Based on the evidence, this article will propose general guidelines for a training plan for instructors.

Open access

Anthropological Responses to COVID-19 in the Philippines

Gideon Lasco

Abstract

This article reflects on the roles anthropologists have played in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, and identifies the challenges – from the methodological to the political – they faced in fulfilling these roles. Drawing on the author's personal and professional experiences in the country, as well as on interviews with other anthropologists, this article identifies three major roles for anthropologists: conducting ethnographic research; bearing witness to the pandemic through first-person accounts; and engaging various publics. All these activities have contributed to a greater recognition of the role of the social sciences in health crises, even as anthropologists struggle to gain the same legitimacy as their clinical and public health counterparts. The article concludes by making recommendations that can better prepare local anthropologists in responding to future health crises.

Open access

ASEAN's “actorness” and “effectiveness” regarding the COVID-19 pandemic

Vincent Rollet

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a new significant test for the role of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in regional health governance in Southeast Asia. Assessing ASEAN's role during the pandemic through the concepts of “actorness” and “effectiveness,” the article argues that while ASEAN displayed all the attributes of actorness during the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to its effectiveness, the capacity of the regional institution to reach the objectives it committed to has been rather limited. Explaining the reasons for such “effectiveness–expectation gap” and, considering the last policy development in the region related to regional health coordination, the article identifies several conditions for ASEAN to strengthen its capacity to act effectively on regional health cooperation, and to contribute to the strengthening of a regional health response to a possible future epidemic threat.

Resumen

El COVID-19 representa una nueva e importante prueba para el papel de la ASEAN en la gobernanza sanitaria regional. Al evaluar su papel durante la pandemia a través de los conceptos de “actuación” y “eficacia”, el artículo sostiene que, si bien la ASEAN mostró todos los atributos de actoría durante la pandemia, en lo que respecta a su eficacia, su capacidad para alcanzar los objetivos a los que se comprometió ha sido limitada. Explicando las razones de esa “brecha entre eficacia y expectativas” y considerando el último desarrollo de políticas de coordinación sanitaria regional, el artículo identificó varios prerrequisitos como ineludibles en su búsqueda por reforzar la eficacia para garantizar la cooperación sanitaria regional en el Sudeste Asiático y mejorar la respuesta regional ante una próxima amenaza sanitaria.

Résumé

La pandémie de COVID-19 représente un test significatif pour apprécier le rôle de l'Association des nations de l'Asie du Sud-Est (ASEAN) au sein de la gouvernance sanitaire régionale en Asie du Sud-Est. En évaluant le rôle de l'ASEAN pendant cette pandémie à travers les concepts d'actorness (capacité à agir) et d'effectiveness (efficacité), cet article montre que si l'ASEAN a exprimé sa capacité à agir pendant cette crise sanitaire, son efficacité, i.e son aptitude à atteindre les objectifs qu'elle s'est fixés, a été plutôt limitée. Les raisons d'un tel écart entre efficacité et attentes (effectiveness-expectations gap) sont expliquées dans l'article qui identifie plusieurs conditions pour que l'ASEAN contribue efficacement au renforcement d'une réponse sanitaire régionale indispensable face à une éventuelle prochaine menace épidémique.