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Editorial Introduction

The Cases of Germany and the United Kingdom

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

In the following studies, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the resilience of communities and the formation of civic activism in Germany and the United Kingdom is analyzed and discussed. In the German study, the expected impact on existing volunteer organizations is explored. In the UK study, by analyzing quantitative data pertaining to (about the determinants of) different categories of mutual aid groups (MAGs) interpretations are made concerning resilience, agility, and civic activist potentialities.

Open access

Editorial Introduction

The Cases of Pakistan and the United States

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

The two case studies of Part IV are based on interviews with poor, disadvantaged families in Lahore (Pakistan) and Cincinnati (United States). These analyses in the sociocultural and welfare dimension address the subjective experiences of how the lockdowns resulting from COVID-19 impacted the quality of the circumstances of their daily lives. The analyses of Part III primarily also were oriented around the sociocultural and welfare dimension. They, among others, regarded the impact of the pandemic on community resilience and agency in the United Kingdom and Germany to sustain supportive networks in their respective “civil societies.” By also exploring political “civic activism” and the impact on “democratic resilience,” the observations and discussions here though have become primarily focused on the sociopolitical and legal dimension.

Open access

Editorial Introduction

The Cases of Japan, Australia, and the United States

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

As has been extensively shown in this thematic issue, the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded many frictions and shortcomings of quite different natures in various societal fields. Moreover, many problems that has previously been latent and not easy to observe have risen to the surface. In this part, three quite diverging problematics, compounded and exposed by the COVID-19 crisis, are studied and discussed. In order to reveal general patterns, in this introduction we try to reveal what—in an ontological and epistemological sense—precisely their nature is, and how they relate to the studies in the other parts of this thematic issue.

Open access

Editorial Introduction

The Cases of India, South Africa, and Brazil

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

In this introduction, the cases of India, South Africa, and Brazil are connected. The contributions from these countries, in different ways, discuss the dramatic moral impacts of government approaches to the pandemic. The three countries are part of the BRICS platform, in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa participate. With 40 percent of the world's population, the BRICS platform concerns a substantial part of the world. The principles of the platform and its mutual “economic, political, cultural an environmental philosophy” are summarized by . The members support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), and they will contribute to the quality of global development. At the 13th BRICS Summit in September 2021, the New Delhi Declaration was presented (BRICS 2021). This declaration conveys a thorough normative mission statement. It therefore renders an interesting common frame of reference from which to analyze and judge the contributions from the three countries, as well as from China and Russia.

Open access

Editorial Introduction

The Cases of Italy and China

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

The cases of Italy and China make for an interesting comparison because they represent quite different governance approaches to the pandemic. These differences may be instructive for the in-depth comprehension of the nature and the impact of government approaches to resolving crises. The two regions notably do share common histories in the spread of pandemics. The first cases of COVID-19 in Asia and Europe were registered in China in December 2019, and in Italy in January 2020, respectively. The origins and initial epidemiological dynamics of the pandemic, though, are still unclear and are the subject of scientific discussion (; ). In the thirteenth century, the spread of “the plague” (Yersinia Pestis) is assumed to have spread from the Asiatic steppes to Venice, at that time a powerful city-state with intensive transcontinental commercial activity into Asia through the Silk Road (). It is interesting to note that the socioenvironmental and ecological dynamics of the origins and initial spread of COVID are still unknown. As stated in the Editorial of this issue, this fact reads as an argument to pay ample attention to the interferences with the sociopolitical and legal, socioeconomic and financial, and sociocultural and welfare dimensions.

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 (). 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.

Open access

Editorial

The Societal Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic Explained via Three Frameworks

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

At the dawn of the devastating events of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the editorial of the first issue of 2020, as well as in the articles, topics related to the overwhelming impact of the emerging crisis were explored (). In particular, reference was made to the topical performances of the federal governments of the United States and Brazil, as well as the British government. As an introduction to this special issue, it is interesting to recall and extend some of the observations that were made last year.

In the case of the United States, when COVID-19 appeared, the hazards of the virus were downplayed and even neglected. The president countered the opinion of public health experts with false, misleading comparisons to other countries (). It was proposed to cut the budget of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention by 16 percent starting in October 2020. Long-lasting contacts and collaboration with the World Health Organization were broken. Due to export restrictions on medical products, importing countries were unable to obtain sufficient medical equipment, resulting in a shortage in healthcare equipment that had to be made for up via a mandatory increase in local production. This came at a high cost and with serious delays (). For the United States itself, the initial attitude of the government resulted in a dramatic blow to its public health resources and capabilities. The quality of hundreds of health departments around the country suggests that the nation may be less prepared for the next pandemic than it was for the current one (). The violence toward public health professions is gradually taking shape (). An overriding societal pattern, which in the United States undermines the principles of effective public health, is the primacy of personal rights over collective responsibility and solidarity. More than half of US states have introduced new laws to restrict public health measures, including policies requiring quarantine and mandating vaccines and/or masks.