What does COVID-19 do to society?
- © DisobeyArt/Shutterstock
By Ebenezer Makinde, Natascha Schoepl, Sonia Yazidi
A year on from the COVID-19 Crisis, the students of the School of Public Affairs reflect on the effect of the COVID crisis on French society, with expert insights from Dr. Ettore Recchi and Dr. Emanuele Ferragina. Dr. Recchi and Dr. Ferragina recently worked on the COVID-19 pandemic with a team of researchers at the Observatoire Sociologique du Changement. The policy seminar was moderated by students* from the Politics & Public Policy stream who share their key takeaways.
Telework, Well-Being, Inequalities and Online Fatigue
Telework: A Temporary Switch
Health and Well-being under lockdown study, 2017 to lockdown period
Inequalities in subjective well-being
Online Fatigue & Inequalities
Two Experiments Regarding Austerity Narratives:
The first experiment measured if and to what degree public preferences could be manipulated towards prioritizing the economy. The researchers asked respondents the questions, “should the lockdown be extended or should the economy be reopened?” The second experiment focused on austerity. They wanted to see if people could be manipulated by austerity narratives by asking, “should the furlough scheme be continued or progressively ended?”
The first experiment had an “incredible result”: the number of people who wanted to end the lockdown, even if the pandemic was not under control, increased from 36% to 66%. This shift was consistent across every socioeconomic group. The result of the second experiment was that the population wasn’t manipulated by austerity narratives and were willing to continue the furlough scheme.
Their overall conclusion was the following: that people wanted more social spending after the pandemic; that public opinion was highly manipulable between health and economic concerns at the peak of the pandemic; and that, despite being highly manipulable about double-edged crisis, people didn't seem to be manipulable in June 2020, and were not influenced by austerity narratives (apart from higher-class people).
Eye of the Hurricane Paradox
While the world was collapsing around them, many people were not affected by the pandemic; they maintained a stable salary and were with their family whilst working at home. How can we explain this?
- When people see the external conditions around them deteriorating, yet their personal situation is stable, they tend to describe themselves in more positive terms.
- Collective excitement: Tragic events trigger collective emotion, which makes people feel reactive, closer, stronger.
- Lastly, the acceleration thesis: the lockdown helped to slow down normal life.
In conclusion, it appears that the pandemic increased socioeconomic divides at a material level, but also the ways people perceived public policy routes during a crisis.
* Lotta Badenheuer, Antonio Contini, Ebenezer Makinde, Javier Martin Merchan, Roisin Ni Chionna, Victor Pellicero Calvo, Laura Ruiz Oltra, Sonia Sassi, Natascha Schoepl, Sonia Yazidi.