Special Issue "COVID-19 and Social Sciences"

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2020).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Carlos Miguel Ferreira
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences-CICS.NOVA, 1069-061 Lisbon, Portugal
2. Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies, 1069-061 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: social sciences; arts and humanities
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Sandro Serpa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, University of The Azores, 9500-321 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
2. Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences – CICS.UAc/ CICS.NOVA.UAc, 9500-321 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
3. Interdisciplinary Centre for Childhood and Adolescence – NICA – UAc, 9500-321 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
Interests: teaching sociology; sociology of education; sociology of organizations; Society 5.0; scientific communication
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic is generating a global crisis with high numbers of infected patients and dead. Most countries have imposed a set of prevention procedures and devices based on isolation and social distancing and prohibition of social accumulations that have led simultaneously to the temporary closure of several economic and social institutions and enormous pressure on health systems. These measures have a profound impact on everyday life, the future consequences of which are not yet certain. This is a dynamic situation, with variations according to the different geographical, economic, societal, and cultural contexts affected.

A significant number of epidemics are characterized by a mode of interhuman transmission. For such an epidemic to occur, social interactions between individuals and groups of individuals must develop. The more these interactions are numerous, regular, and rapid, the greater the risk that an epidemic will be triggered and spread on a large scale. These interactions on a global scale shape a pandemic. The world space is a network of large metropolises connected. Epidemics can be considered paradigms of interdependence, expressing the “public evil” that strikes all societies, dominant and dominated.

In several discursive records, epidemic, contagion, and contamination are inseparable notions. The phenomenon these notions describe is always relational, but the role attributed to the reports (elements or individuals placed in relation) may be different. The notion of contagion configures the normative justifications, developed by institutions to formulate, and implement coercive measures, namely, excommunication or quarantine. Naming contagion allows the naturalization of a threat, which is an uncontrolled proliferation of an evil or disease places in a particular community, justifying the adoption of measures to manage that threat.

This whole context has profound implications that raise questions for which the contribution of the Social Sciences does not seem to be sufficiently mobilized (research in SCILIT, virtual social networks, and other databases).

In this Special Issue, we welcome manuscripts of various types, such as empirical research articles (whatever the methodology used), literature reviews, reasoned comments, and justified argumentative essays, which contribute to advancing our understanding of the heuristic capacity of Social Sciences as a fundamental tool in the analysis of cognitive assessments and collective behaviors developed in the pandemic caused by COVID-19 and the implications of the exponential increase of social interactions and spatial, economic, and societal dynamics, at various scales, in the post-pandemic future.

The contributions of the Social Sciences are decisive in shaping the collective management of this and future epidemics and pandemics. Collective management of disease and health involves society in the interpretation and mobilization of institutions and standards that serve to tackle epidemic diseases in less differentiated societies and endemic and epidemic diseases in modern societies, but also contributes to the preservation of health and to the organization of the “governance of life” around shared values, and also competing references and even conflicting standards.

Prof. Carlos Miguel Ferreira
Dr. Sandro Serpa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as conceptual papers are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Corona Virus
  • Sociology
  • Social Sciences
  • Social distancing
  • Education
  • Heuristic capacity

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
COVID-19 and Social Sciences
Societies 2020, 10(4), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10040100 - 16 Dec 2020
Viewed by 705
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic (caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2) is having profound effects on all dimensions of life, such as the individual, social, cultural, public health, and economic dimensions [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Social Sciences)

Research

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Article
COVID-19 as a Global Risk: Confronting the Ambivalences of a Socionatural Threat
Societies 2020, 10(4), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10040092 - 26 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1199
Abstract
On the face of it, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to fit into the risk society framework as a danger that is produced by the modernization process in its global stage. However, coronaviruses are a very particular kind of risk which risk theory does [...] Read more.
On the face of it, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to fit into the risk society framework as a danger that is produced by the modernization process in its global stage. However, coronaviruses are a very particular kind of risk which risk theory does not properly explain. In fact, there is no single perspective on risk that offers a fully satisfactory account of the SARS-CoV-2, despite all of them having something valuable to contribute to the task. This paper attempts to categorize the COVID-19 pandemic as a particular kind of risk that is not adequately explained with reference to the risk society or the new epoch of the Anthropocene. On the contrary, it combines premodern and modern features: it takes place in the Anthropocene but is not of the Anthropocene, while its effects are a manifestation of the long globalization process that begins in antiquity with the early representations of the planet as a sphere. If the particular identity of the disease is considered, COVID-19 emerges as the first truly global illness and thus points to a new understanding of the vulnerability of the human species qua species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Social Sciences)
Article
Altered Self-Observations, Unclear Risk Perceptions and Changes in Relational Everyday Life: A Qualitative Study of Psychosocial Life with Diabetes during the COVID-19 Lockdown
Societies 2020, 10(3), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10030063 - 01 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1762
Abstract
When the Danish society went into COVID-19 lockdown, it dramatically changed the conditions for living with a chronic disease like diabetes. The present article highlights the psychosocial effects of this change. The dataset consists of 20 semi-structured online interviews with people with diabetes. [...] Read more.
When the Danish society went into COVID-19 lockdown, it dramatically changed the conditions for living with a chronic disease like diabetes. The present article highlights the psychosocial effects of this change. The dataset consists of 20 semi-structured online interviews with people with diabetes. The data were analyzed using radical hermeneutics and interpreted using Luhmann’s operative constructivist systems theory. The analysis produced three main themes: (1) people with diabetes experience altered self-observations–mainly due to society labelling them as vulnerable, (2) people with diabetes have unclear risk perceptions due to lack of concrete knowledge about the association between COVID-19 and diabetes, and (3) changes in conditions for maintaining and creating meaningful relations have a significant impact on everyday life with diabetes. These findings have important implications for risk communication. People respond in a multitude of ways to communications issued by health authorities and with close relations, and their meaning-making is shaped by, and shapes, their self-observations, risk perceptions and relational environments. This calls for more targeted communication strategies as well as increased use of peer support; the goal being to help people create meaning in their own environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Social Sciences)

Other

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Concept Paper
Responding to Social Distancing in Conducting Stakeholder Workshops in COVID-19 Era
Societies 2020, 10(4), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10040098 - 13 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1327
Abstract
In March 2020, COVID-19 disrupted global society. Impacts as a result of COVID-19 were seen in all industries, including higher education research, which was paused in order to accommodate newly imposed restrictions. Social science research, specifically stakeholder engagement research, was one area that [...] Read more.
In March 2020, COVID-19 disrupted global society. Impacts as a result of COVID-19 were seen in all industries, including higher education research, which was paused in order to accommodate newly imposed restrictions. Social science research, specifically stakeholder engagement research, was one area that was potentially impacted given its need for person-to-person interaction. Here, we describe how we successfully adjusted our stakeholder engagement methodology to accommodate for socially distant requirements. Initially, we planned to host in-person workshops to assess stakeholder perceptions of microplastics impacts on oysters in Boston Harbor and coastal Massachusetts using the deliberative multicriteria evaluation (DMCE) methodology. To transfer these workshops online, we used familiar, open-access platforms, Zoom and GoogleDrive, to enable dialogue among participants and evaluate preferences. While modifications to length (5 to 3 h) and order (participants were asked to watch expert videos before their participation date) of the workshop were necessary, most other elements of the methodology remained the same for the online format. The main element that was lacking was the in-person interactions. However, with video conferencing tools available, this element was not completely lost. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Social Sciences)
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Concept Paper
Online Learning and Emergency Remote Teaching: Opportunities and Challenges in Emergency Situations
Societies 2020, 10(4), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10040086 - 13 Nov 2020
Cited by 33 | Viewed by 7095
Abstract
The aim of the study is to analyse the opportunities and challenges of emergency remote teaching based on experiences of the COVID-19 emergency. A qualitative research method was undertaken in two steps. In the first step, a thematic analysis of an online discussion [...] Read more.
The aim of the study is to analyse the opportunities and challenges of emergency remote teaching based on experiences of the COVID-19 emergency. A qualitative research method was undertaken in two steps. In the first step, a thematic analysis of an online discussion forum with international experts from different sectors and countries was carried out. In the second step (an Italian case study), both the data and the statements of opinion leaders from secondary online sources, including web articles, statistical data and legislation, were analysed. The results reveal several technological, pedagogical and social challenges. The technological challenges are mainly related to the unreliability of Internet connections and many students’ lack of necessary electronic devices. The pedagogical challenges are principally associated with teachers’ and learners’ lack of digital skills, the lack of structured content versus the abundance of online resources, learners’ lack of interactivity and motivation and teachers’ lack of social and cognitive presence (the ability to construct meaning through sustained communication within a community of inquiry). The social challenges are mainly related to the lack of human interaction between teachers and students as well as among the latter, the lack of physical spaces at home to receive lessons and the lack of support of parents who are frequently working remotely in the same spaces. Based on the lessons learned from this worldwide emergency, challenges and proposals for action to face these same challenges, which should be and sometimes have been implemented, are provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Social Sciences)
Concept Paper
The COVID-19 Contagion–Pandemic Dyad: A View from Social Sciences
Societies 2020, 10(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10040077 - 06 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2010
Abstract
The objective of this concept paper focuses on the relevance of the analytical potential of Social Sciences for understanding the multiple implications and challenges posed by the COVID-19 contagion–pandemic dyad. This pandemic is generating a global threat with a high number of deaths [...] Read more.
The objective of this concept paper focuses on the relevance of the analytical potential of Social Sciences for understanding the multiple implications and challenges posed by the COVID-19 contagion–pandemic dyad. This pandemic is generating a global threat with a high number of deaths and infected individuals, triggering enormous pressure on health systems. Most countries have put in place a set of procedures based on social distancing, as well as (preventive) isolation from possible infected and transmitters of the disease. This crisis has profound implications and raises issues for which the contribution of Social Sciences does not seem to be sufficiently mobilised. The contribution of Social Sciences is paramount, in terms of their knowledge and skills, to the knowledge of these problematic realities and to act in an informed way on these crises. Social Sciences are a scientific project focused on interdisciplinarity, theoretical and methodological plurality. This discussion is developed from the systems of relationships between social phenomena in the coordinates of time and place, and in the socio-historical contexts in which they are integrated. A pandemic is a complex phenomenon as it is always a point of articulation between natural and social determinations. The space of the discourse on the COVID-19 pandemic can be understood as the expression of a coalition of discourses, i.e., the interaction of various discourses, combined in re-interpretative modalities of certain realities and social phenomena. The circumstantial coalitions of interests, which shape the different discursive records and actions produced by different agents of distinct social spaces, enable the acknowledgement and legitimation of this pandemic threat and danger, and the promotion of its public management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Social Sciences)
Concept Paper
Social, Psychological, and Philosophical Reflections on Pandemics and Beyond
Societies 2020, 10(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10020042 - 01 Jun 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1817
Abstract
This conceptual paper presents social, psychological and philosophical (ethical and epistemological) reflections regarding the current (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond, using an analytic and comparative approach. For example, Taiwan and Canada are compared, addressing Taiwan’s learning from SARS. Suggestions are made in relation to [...] Read more.
This conceptual paper presents social, psychological and philosophical (ethical and epistemological) reflections regarding the current (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond, using an analytic and comparative approach. For example, Taiwan and Canada are compared, addressing Taiwan’s learning from SARS. Suggestions are made in relation to current and future relevant practice, policy, research and education. For example, highly exposed individuals and particularly vulnerable populations, such as health care providers and socially disadvantaged (homeless and other) people, respectively, are addressed as requiring special attention. In conclusion, more reflection on and study of social and psychological challenges as well as underlying philosophical issues related to the current pandemic and more generally to global crises is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Social Sciences)
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