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Learning for the Future beyond COVID-19: A Critical Alternative to the Neoliberal Model of Development
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Challenges of Post-COVID-19 for a Sustainably Developed Society

Sandro Serpa
1,2,3,* and
Carlos Miguel Ferreira
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, University of The Azores, 9500-321 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences—CICS.UAc/CICS.NOVA.UAc, 9500-321 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
Interdisciplinary Centre for Childhood and Adolescence—NICA—UAc, 9500-321 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences—CICS.NOVA, Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies, 2765-273 Estoril, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Societies 2022, 12(2), 66;
Submission received: 30 March 2022 / Revised: 31 March 2022 / Accepted: 1 April 2022 / Published: 6 April 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges of Post-COVID-19 for a Sustainable Development Society)
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted both preventive and reactive disease control measures, such as lockdown, physical distancing, and mask use, among others [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11]. These measures have exerted influence in virtually all domains of social life [12,13], acting as a “cultural break point” [14] (p. 1) in the physical but also in the virtual world. According to Echegaray [15] (p. 568), “These measures caused a ‘social recession’ as it brought face-to-face inter-personal interaction to its minimum expression except among other household members, with social connections eventually migrating to the internet-mediated online sphere”.
This Special Issue gathers contributions on the analysis of the “Challenges of post-COVID-19 for a sustainable development society”, which are varied, multiple and interdependent of an interdisciplinary nature in various areas, such as health, social, economic, ecological, political, educational, and moral areas, among others, towards increasing sustainability [16]. The fulfilment of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [17] is, undoubtedly, a complex process involving various actors, powers, and interests, to which the fact that human beings are generally averse to changes in socio-cultural patterns must be added [11,18].
In addition to being unexpected and unplanned, the COVID-19 pandemic was, as a result, a generator of high uncertainty about the present but also about the future [19], demonstrating that unpredictability cannot be disregarded in any social process [1,5,14]. Still, and without over extrapolating or falling into the error of continuity or “new normal vs old normal” dichotomy [15], it is possible to consider the opening of potential futures and sustainable development opportunities to (re)discover if we do not stick to “business as usual” [2,6,7,9,15,20,21,22,23,24]. In the words of Zinn [18] (p. 613), “To what extent the opportunity for global learning is taken up remains to be seen. There is little doubt, however, that pandemics will contribute to long-term changes in human attitudes and behavior towards the environment and the technologically shaped lifeworld”.
We are pleased to acknowledge all the professional collaborations provided by the Editorial Office of Societies journal, as well as the trust placed in us by the Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Dr. Gregor Wolbring, and a group of reviewers, which resulted in very rigorous but, at the same time, constructive evaluations, and contributed greatly to maintaining a high level of scientific demand for this Special Issue. This resulted in a very interesting and heuristically pertinent contribution.
To summarize the main characteristics of the manuscripts published in this Special Issue of Societies journal, “Challenges of Post-COVID-19 for a Sustainable Development Society”: 18 manuscripts were submitted, nine were accepted and published (five articles—as original empirical research—and four concept papers—contributing with new insights but without mobilizing new empirical information). Table 1 summarizes some characteristics of the published manuscripts [25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33].
In any case, and whatever the developments in the post-COVID 19 world, it is critical to consider individual and/or collective inequalities of various kinds, and materialized in numerous ways [1,7,34,35,36]. According to Leach et al. [5] (p. 4), “Epidemics are often said to be mirrors to society and COVID-19 has revealed a highly unequal world. It has highlighted inequalities and structural vulnerabilities, often the result of long histories of marginalization. Although the virus initially spread in richer countries, the trends soon reversed”.
One example of these inequalities reinforced by COVID-19, among many others that we could point out, is closely linked to the digital divide, and it has been demonstrated that, with the closure of schools, socially and economically disadvantaged students have found it more difficult to keep up with school subjects [10,37,38].
We are confident that our readers will appreciate this contribution toward (re)thinking the post-COVID-19 period in a desirably more sustainable world, which will always be necessary in a permanently built balance between society, nature, and technology [18]. In this balance, citizenship exercised in a conscious way, scientific interdisciplinarity, the community–scientists–political decision relationship and communication, and collective cooperation (group, national, and transnational) are crucial elements for success in achieving this goal [3,21].


This research was funded by the University of Azores, Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences-CICS.UAc/CICS.NOVA.UAc, UID/SOC/04647/2020, with the financial support of FCT/MEC through national funds, and when applicable, co-financed by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Table 1. Some characteristics of the published manuscripts.
Table 1. Some characteristics of the published manuscripts.
Type of PublicationTitlePurposeAuthorsCountry
ArticleAccessibility in Inclusive Tourism? Hotels Distributed through Online ChannelsAnalyze the tourist accommodation sector through the online distribution channel in terms of accessibility for people with disabilities for a more inclusive tourism in the post-COVID-19 crisisEva Martin-Fuentes
Sara Mostafa-Shaalan
Juan Pedro Mellinas
ArticleCOVID-ized Ethnography: Challenges and Opportunities for Young Environmental Activists and ResearchersExamine the impact of the enforced 2020/21 COVID-19 lockdown on ethnographic fieldwork conducted with UK-based young environmental activistsDena Arya
Matt Henn
ArticleThe Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Working Conditions, Employment, Career Development and Well-Being of Refugee ResearchersExplore how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the working conditions, employment, career development and well-being of refugee researchersOurania Tzoraki
Svetlana Dimitrova
Marin Barzakov
Saad Yaseen
Vasilis Gavalas
Hani Harb
Abas Haidari
Brian P. Cahill
Alexandra Ćulibrk
Ekaterini Nikolarea
Eleni Andrianopulu
Miroslav Trajanovic
ArticleMale Sex Workers Selling Physical Sex during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Portugal: Motives, Safer Sex Practices, and Social VulnerabilitiesAnalyze the motives, safer sex practices, and vulnerabilities of male sex workers who sold physical sex during the COVID-19 pandemicHenrique PereiraPortugal
ArticleJogging during the Lockdown: Changes in the Regimes of Kinesthetic Morality and Urban Emotional Geography in NW ItalyStudy how the urban emotional geography through how lockdown caused by COVID-19 affected practices and meaning of cultural physical practices among joggers in an urban environmentMichele Filippo FontefrancescoItaly and UK
Concept PaperCOVID-19 Stigma and Charismatic Social Relationship: A Legitimization Narrative of President Trump’s Status as a Charismatic Leader following a SARS-CoV-2 Infection Reported by the Portuguese MediaUnderstand how stigma in the context of a pandemic threat such as COVID-19 has structured a charismatic social and political relationshipCarlos Miguel Ferreira Sandro SerpaPortugal
Concept PaperDigitalization and Artificial Intelligence in Migration and Mobility: Transnational Implications of the COVID-19 PandemicExamine the implications of intensifying digitalization and Artificial Intelligence for migration and mobility systems in a post-COVID transnational contextMarie McAuliffe
Jenna Blower
Ana Beduschi
Concept PaperFiltering Facepiece Respirator Supply Chain Management Framework in a Disaster Such as COVID-19Suggest a conceptual model to build a supply chain management framework for future emergenciesKihyung Kim
Li Zhao
Concept PaperLearning for the Future beyond COVID-19: A Critical Alternative to the Neoliberal Model of DevelopmentAnalize COVID-19 pandemic, framing in critical political economy perspectives the tension between the model of neoliberal capitalism development and COVID-19 suppressionDavid NeilsonNew Zealand
Source: Table prepared by the authors.
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Serpa, S.; Ferreira, C.M. Challenges of Post-COVID-19 for a Sustainably Developed Society. Societies 2022, 12, 66.

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Serpa S, Ferreira CM. Challenges of Post-COVID-19 for a Sustainably Developed Society. Societies. 2022; 12(2):66.

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Serpa, Sandro, and Carlos Miguel Ferreira. 2022. "Challenges of Post-COVID-19 for a Sustainably Developed Society" Societies 12, no. 2: 66.

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