Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article
What about the “Social Aspect of COVID”? Exploring the Determinants of Social Isolation on the Greek Population during the COVID-19 Lockdown
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10010027 - 18 Jan 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic, its duration, and its intensity are harbingers of demographic change. In the context of social demography, it is crucial to explore the social challenge emerging from the coronavirus disease. The main purpose of this study is (i) to explore the [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic, its duration, and its intensity are harbingers of demographic change. In the context of social demography, it is crucial to explore the social challenge emerging from the coronavirus disease. The main purpose of this study is (i) to explore the determinants that affected the population in Greece in terms of social isolation during the lockdown period and (ii) to examine possible differences in the assessment of the social isolation factors depending on whether individuals live in urban or rural areas or regions with relative geographical isolation. Field research was conducted with 4216 questionnaires during the first wave of COVID-19 (March to April 2020). Multivariate analysis methods were applied to detect the main factors that impacted the feeling of social isolation, and nonparametric tests were performed to detect possible differences between population groups. Despite the resistance shown to the spread of the disease, the Greek population totally complied with the measures of social distancing and thus was socially and psychologically affected. The results indicate that psychosomatic disorders, employment situations, changes in sleep habits, socialization on the Internet, demographic status, health concerns, and trust in government and the media response determine the Greeks’ social isolation feeling. Pandemic and confinement measures have consequences for individuals and social groups and may prejudice social cohesion at multiple levels. By understanding how the pandemic affected the societies, interventions and public policies may be implemented to ensure both social cohesion and populations’ wellbeing by addressing the social isolation feeling. Full article
Article
The Visual Politics of the Alternative for Germany (AfD): Anti-Islam, Ethno-Nationalism, and Gendered Images
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10010020 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
This article is an empirical investigation into the visual mobilization strategies by far-right political parties for election campaigns constructing Muslim immigrants as a “threat” to the nation. Drawing on an interdisciplinary theoretical approach of social movement studies and research on media and communication, [...] Read more.
This article is an empirical investigation into the visual mobilization strategies by far-right political parties for election campaigns constructing Muslim immigrants as a “threat” to the nation. Drawing on an interdisciplinary theoretical approach of social movement studies and research on media and communication, I focus on the far-right political party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has produced several widespread inflammatory series of visual election posters featuring anti-Islam rhetoric, combined with provocative images of gender and sexuality. By approaching visual politics through a perspective on actors constructing visual forms of political mobilization, I show how far-right populist “movement parties” are supported by professional graphic designers commercializing extremist ideologies by creating ambivalent images and text messages. My findings on the AfD’s visual campaign politics document the instrumentalization and appropriation of the rhetoric of women’s empowerment and LGBT rights discourse, helping the AfD to rebrand its image as a liberal democratic opposition party, while at the same time, maintaining its illiberal political agenda on gender and sexuality. Visual representations of gender and sexuality in professionally created election posters served to ridicule and shame Muslim minorities and denounce their “Otherness”—while also promoting a heroic self-image of the party as a savior of white women and Western civilization from the threat of male Muslim migrants. By documenting the visual politics of the AfD, as embedded in transnational cooperation between different actors, including visual professional graphic designers and far-right party activists, my multimodal analysis shows how far-right movement parties marketize and commercialize their image as “progressive” in order to reach out to new voters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Global Rise of the Extreme Right)
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Article
Making Sense of Murder: The Reality versus the Realness of Gang Homicides in Two Contexts
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10010017 - 12 Jan 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Despite the proliferation of research examining gang violence, little is known about how gang members experience, make sense of, and respond to peer fatalities. Drawing from two ethnographies in the Netherlands and Canada, this paper interrogates how gang members experience their affiliates’ murder [...] Read more.
Despite the proliferation of research examining gang violence, little is known about how gang members experience, make sense of, and respond to peer fatalities. Drawing from two ethnographies in the Netherlands and Canada, this paper interrogates how gang members experience their affiliates’ murder in different street milieus. We describe how gang members in both studies made sense of and navigated their affiliates’ murder(s) by conducting pseudo-homicide investigations, being hypervigilant, and attributing blameworthiness to the victim. We then demonstrate that while the Netherland’s milder street culture amplifies the significance of homicide, signals the authenticity of gang life, and reaffirms or tests group commitment, frequent and normalized gun violence in Canada has desensitized gang-involved men to murder, created a communal and perpetual state of insecurity, and eroded group cohesion. Lastly, we compare the ‘realness’ of gang homicide in The Hague with the ‘reality’ of lethal violence in Toronto, drawing attention to the importance of the ‘local’ in making sense of murder and contrasting participants’ narratives of interpretation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Gang-Related Violence in the 21st Century)
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