COVID-19 in Social and Cultural Contexts





The significance of comprehending COVID-19 in various social and cultural contexts. 


Of course, a scientific explanation of the epidemic is essential for the population to justify government reactions to the pandemic. In addition, we discussed some of the existing flaws in the scientific analysis of COVID-19 in the previous section. However, in addition to the kind of facts and data that the natural sciences can offer, politicians must also provide evidence about the pandemic's social and cultural aspects. 

These factors include both the social and cultural climate in which the virus persists and grows, as well as the possible social and cultural consequences of virus-containment strategies—it would be impractical to extend the same policies to all populations, nations, and contexts. 

Without a wider perception, such policies can be inefficient as well as incompatible with the demands of justifiable civility. 


The critical need for more experimental studies on COVID-19 in daily environments in the previous section, in order to better understand how the virus spreads in different spaces and via different surfaces and materials. 


Studies done in the field, away from real-world environments, are not always able to have this kind of evidence. But, in addition to gaining a greater understanding of the physical aspects of daily settings, it is also important to investigate their social and cultural dimensions, such as how individuals communicate in various situations and spaces. 

Knowing what materials chairs and tables are made of, or how cooling functions in these settings, is not enough to consider how COVID-19 spreads in restaurants and cafes, for example. 

It's also important to know what sorts of experiences people have, such as whether they eat with others or alone, whether they swap plates or not, whether they sit or stand to drink coffee, and how much and for how long they visit these places. 

These questions, on the other hand, cannot be answered in a vacuum. Instead, it is important to gain awareness and understanding of various food and coffee cultures. Knowing that people in one country choose to eat in big crowds at restaurants for long stretches of time, while people in another prefer to eat fast meals on their own, for example, may have consequences for how COVID-19 strategies are planned, since such differing social and cultural patterns are likely to affect the virus's distribution in different ways. 


Beyond the natural science study of the virus, acquiring this knowledge necessitates interdisciplinary studies. 


It also requires politicians to rely on the experience of social scientists (e.g., sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and political scientists) who research the virus in relation to people's behaviors and values. 

It's critical to draw on this knowledge to better understand not just how the virus spreads in various situations, but also how to adapt. Knowing a country's religious makeup, for example, is critical because religious practitioners in certain countries have occasionally protested or refused to completely comply with lockout laws targeting places of worship. 

Knowing whether a country's political culture values individual liberty or unity will be important in determining how its politicians will better defend policy responses to COVID-19, as well as the degree to which they can restrict individual rights and liberties in ways that the majority of people will deem socially justifiable. 

For example, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently stated that one of the reasons why the UK's efforts to suppress the virus have been unsuccessful is the people' love for individual liberty. Johnson said in a parliamentary address, "Really, there is a significant gap between our country and many other countries around the world... That is, our country is a libertarian country. 

If you look at the country's past over the last few years, you'll see that almost every advancement – from free expression to independence – has come from here. And it is extremely difficult to expect the entire British population to follow guidelines in the manner that is required. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, has always highlighted the importance of German society's unity, an idea she emphasized in a speech to the country at the outbreak of the pandemic in March: There hasn't been a problem for our country since German reunification, no, since the Second World War, in which engagement in a spirit of unity on our part was so important. 

Anything I've said so far is based on ongoing discussions between the federal government and experts from the Robert Koch Institute and other scientists and virologists. This isn't just about numbers in a spreadsheet; it's about a father or grandfather, a mother or grandmother, a girlfriend – it's about individuals. And we are a society where every life and person matters. 

Recognizing these types of cultural distinctions will help politicians have more public justifications for their policies, i.e. justifications that are more in line with certain principles. After all, one of political liberalism's central assumptions is that policy reasons must be based on ideas that are implicit in a society's public political culture. 

Those proposals, or how they are prioritized in relation to one another, may vary across cultures, including liberal democracies. If politicians are unable to offer a public argument that is consistent with common ideas and values in their society's public political culture, new policies that are more consistent with those ideas and values may be required. 


Other social and cultural influences affect how we interpret and combat COVID-19, in addition to moral and political worldviews. 


Shaming, for example, may be an effective psychological tool for limiting social order problems during the pandemic. Many Australians, for example, began hoarding and fighting over toilet paper at the outbreak of the public health crisis. 

That conduct, as well as non-compliance with anti-COVID-19 policies in general, was described by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as "un-Australian." The significance of additional cultural influences is further shown by mask-wearing standards. The likelihood of people wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is highly dependent on local cultural norms. 

In certain parts of Asia, for example, everybody wears a mask by custom because it is considered safer and more considerate. In mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan, it is widely assumed that everyone, even healthy citizens, may be a carrier of the virus. 

As a result, in the sense of unity, you must defend others against yourself... And before the coronavirus epidemic, mask-wearing was a cultural practice in many of these nations. 

They've also been trend statements – Hello Kitty face masks were once all the rage in Hong Kong's street markets. Similarly, communities that value friendly kissing and hugs might be more favorable to the virus's dissemination. Furthermore, a society's ability to react to a danger such as the present pandemic is influenced by past natural disaster experiences. 

According to one report, environmental and human-made challenges intensify the need for strict standards and deviant behavior deterrence in the service of collective coordination for survival—whether it's to mitigate instability in high-population countries, cope with resource shortages, mobilize in the face of natural disasters, protect against territorial threats, or contain disease transmission. 


To effectively cope with such risks, nations meeting these specific problems are expected to cultivate strict standards and have a low threshold for deviant conduct [tight cultures]. 


Nations with little environmental and human-made risks, on the other hand, provide a much lower demand for order and social coordination, allowing for more latitude [loose cultures] and weaker social standards. 

Knowing whether a society's culture is "strong" or "loose" will help researchers better understand people's reactions to COVID-19, the degree to which social expectations can control behavior, and how well policy solutions to the pandemic are implemented. To summarize, justifying civility requires experience and comprehension of the social world in which COVID-19 operates and spreads. 

To restate our main argument in this section, such information is critical for two reasons. For starters, it will assist politicians in better understanding the epidemic and improving the effectiveness of the measures put in place to combat it. This will improve the public case for such policies' epistemic dimension. 

Second, a greater understanding of a country's political culture will aid politicians in better aligning the normative component of their public justifications for policies with the theories, beliefs, and standards that are widely held in that society.


You may also want to read more analysis about the COVID-19 Pandemic here.



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