Sociological Impact of COVID 19

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Impact of

From its first-recorded emergence in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, Covid-19 has spread quickly around the world. Not merely a health crisis, the Covid crisis has brought with it rapid and significant changes in people’s everyday lives. Its impacts are currently felt in every geographical region of the world. The physical isolation, travel restrictions and quarantine measures introduced globally to control and contain the spread of the coronavirus have created contractions in most national economies and forced people to study, work and engage in leisure activities from home for many weeks. Health experts and governments across the world have been advising people to practice social distancing to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus. However, that is easier said than done because it involves staying away from people to avoid the spreading and catching the virus, but it is not within our nature to lock ourselves away or shun social interaction. Moreover, the sheer size of the world population makes not encountering someone impossible.

Man cannot live alone. He must satisfy certain natural basic needs in order to survive. He has to enter into relationships with his fellowmen for living a life. No man can break the shackles of mutual dependence. The legendary Greek philosopher Aristotle was right when he wrote in his treatise Politics (328 BC), “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.” Man is a social animal and social relations and the social interactions are integral to human civilization, but, due to the rapid pandemic spread of the virus and the increase of social distancing measures, this web of relationships was severely impacted. From the human existence, these social connections and relations have become integral into way of life. So, if there is absence of such deep meaningful connections it leads to stressful states of anxiety both in body and in mind. Loneliness, anxiety drives, depression, panic states, mental disorders, health hazards, and many other issues impact the life of the individual and the society as a whole. This seems like a disconnection from social life and a retreat to social isolation which would be extremely damaging to social capital. It could have negative effects for virtually every aspect of our lives.

What is Sociology?

Sociology is the science of society. John Stuart Mill proposed the word ethology. Herbert Spencer developed his systematic study of society and adopted the word sociology. Auguste Comete (1798-1857), a French positivist thinker, considered the founding father of sociology, defines it as the science of social phenomena “subject to natural and invariable laws, the discovery of which is the object of investigation.” Sociology has been variously defined as the science of social institutions, science of social relationships, science of social phenomena, study of systems of social action and of their inter-relations, and so on. No matter what definition we accept, sociology uses diverse tools of investigation and systematic analysis focussing on social activities at the micro and macro levels. The techniques employed may be quantitative, qualitative, or both. The ultimate objective of such studies is often the application of principles for ensuring welfare of the people. Stratification of society, race, class, caste, religion, gender, culture, language, conventions, norms, deviance (behaviour that violates social norms), crime and punishment, health, poverty, family structure, and social mobility are some of the concerns of sociology.liderazgo-resiliencia-portada

To society, social distancing presents the dangers of increasing social rejection, growing impersonality and individualism, and the loss of a sense of community. It negatively affects learning and growth, and it prevents people from effectively socializing, which is a fundamental human need. First and foremost, the measures carried a strong psychological message, which is the fear of others, along with the idea that others are potential carriers of deadly germs and life‐threatening diseases. The alarming rate of contamination and death from the virus contributed to establishing more panic, and even paranoia among many. What is particularly concerning is the fact that this psychological effect could potentially remain in our communities, even long after the pandemic. Whether this is at work, in restaurants, or in public spaces, our society has long been characterized by physical interactions between people. We are used to working in groups, going places, meeting new people, and making conversations with them on a daily basis. As we navigate through life, much of what fulfills us are the bonds we create with other people, and more often than not, those bonds materialize through physical interactions.


Effects of Covid-19 Pandemic on

Society and Social Interactions


Allen Furr (Pprofessor of sociology in Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts)

When we are under lockdown and social distancing orders, it is impossible to have relationships exactly as they were before. After all, we are trying to minimize risk of contracting Covid-19, the disease associated with the novel coronavirus. Family relationships and friendships and how we work and conduct business, engage in civic activities and entertain ourselves are all affected by the new rules. At the most basic level, the way we relate to other people outside our households is unlike anything we have ever experienced. When we do engage others, we touch them less (will we ever shake hands again?) and move more rapidly to avoid them. We speak to people at a distance or via an electronic device. kNj1C9YfGJcBhxI9WyRJT6EZ-P1kYfPfDJ2r_lZztoM

The lockdown not only impacts everyday life, but it poses challenges to our existential existence; that is, how we understand what social life should be. For example, in American society, many of our social institutions are dedicated to preserving the rights of individuals, which are among the core values of our culture. When a severe public crisis emerges, however, the focus of our institutions changes from defending civil liberties to protecting and preserving national health and social order. Some people are having trouble reconciling this change in our collective social lives and have either denied the seriousness of the coronavirus or resisted temporary limitations on what they believe are their civil entitlements.

Whether distancing enters our “collective mind” will largely depend on how the current pandemic plays out. If a reliable treatment or an effective vaccine is developed and the threat is removed, social distancing will be less urgent and may fade from public consciousness. On the other hand, if the threat persists, social distancing will remain in the forefront of our thinking, potentially becoming a source of social tension. Keep in mind that economic desperation will force many people to ignore distancing practices, and many people simply refuse to distance. It’s hard to predict the future, but we know from past epidemics that life returned to normal once the threat passed because the forces driving us to return to the “old normal” are strong. If social distancing remains necessary, it may become another expression of our current political divisions: those who distance and those who don’t.

One thing we do know is that, the longer social distancing continues, the more impact it will have. We learned from the SARS and MERS epidemics that quarantines affect the mental health of people in isolation and health care providers. Anxiety, substance abuse, depression and anger lasted months and even years after those crises ended. We need to be aware of emotional and behavioral changes in ourselves and loved ones and not be afraid to ask for help if troubles persist.

Much like the aftermath of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, our society will probably make adjustments following this global crisis. Hopefully all of them will be for the better, but if there is no vaccine or treatment, society could change in dramatically negative ways. For example, we could see medical issues becoming more politicized and people stigmatized for having Covid-19. Many people may blame those with the disease as being the cause of having to curtail their usual activities. We have already seen discriminatory behavior targeting people who have been falsely blamed for causing the pandemic. Another negative change could be in residential patterns. Viral diseases thrive on people living very close to one another. People with more money may abandon densely populated urban areas, leaving cities with greater concentrations of disadvantaged people, people who are showing to be highly vulnerable to Covid-19 because their jobs do not allow them to work at home or they have fewer social and medical protections, such as insurance or savings, to help them weather the storm.

Positive outcomes are possible, too. One is that the shutdown has caused a major improvement in air quality. People throughout the world are breathing cleaner air, and many are seeing the stars for the first time. If we treat the shutdown as an opportunity, perhaps we will understand the effects of human activity on the environment and take permanent measures to keep the planet healthy. Another positive outcome is that we are learning the importance of other people in our lives. Isolation is hard for most everyone, and being cut off from others has reminded us to stay close to the people we care about. On that note, I hope we are learning to appreciate those who work in jobs that are essential, but not necessarily high-paying. Grocery store employees, sanitation workers, nursing home staff and, of course, nurses and medical technicians, among many others, provide invaluable services to our collective well-being, and we should not take them for

The crisis has taught us the importance of reaching out to friends and loved ones, and perhaps we will stay close to them. The worry is that when the crisis ends, we will stop talking as often. But what I have seen is people being more expressive and clever in their communications. They are opening up and not just simply exchanging pleasantries; they are relying on tech-dependent communication to express their emotions and ideas. Hopefully, this will make us freer and more open once face-to-face communication returns. If nothing else, we have developed expertise in Zoom, FaceTime, Skype and other similar communication applications.

However, we have learned that a lot of our work can be done via distance. Should the crisis end and these practices become permanent, we may actually experience a net loss in social contacts. We could retreat to an even smaller social world than before the crisis. Virtual relationships are not a healthy substitute for real, genuine human contact.

Physical interactions are an essential part of human social experience, and they are particularly important for the social development of young people. By closing schools, the pandemic is preventing many children and adolescents from socializing with others. This affects their ability to make quality connections, which impacts their personal growth. Indeed, youth flourishes socially through connections and fulfilling relationships, which are also an integral part of their learning. Long‐term isolation leaves these basic human needs unsatisfied and ultimately affects mental health.

The rapidity at which the coronavirus disease stroke the world, along with assertions from many researchers who predict that the world might face more dangerous pandemics in the future, builds the ground for legitimate fear. In America, not only do shoppers in grocery stores keep the recommended 6‐ft distance from others, but they are also skeptical and distrustful, looking at others as potential disease carriers. What was initially intended to be an innocuous measure to limit the spread of the disease could gradually drive avoidance and exclusion. Certain scientists have asserted that humans might have to live with the coronavirus for a long time, due to lack of vaccine, or that it might become a highly seasonal disease. If we, as a society, do not find ways to maintain physical and emotional connections when facing similar pandemics, the irrecurrence once or twice every decade would only worsen their negative effects on us, and it may make people feel that being isolated and distant is safe, while being outgoing and social is risky behavior. Such an atmosphere would make it more difficult to build social bonds, and it could be the unfortunate future of our communities.

It needs to be remembered that social connectedness matters – relationships affect our health and opportunities to thrive in society. Loneliness and social isolation make us sick. We must thus practice “physical distancing”, not “social distancing”, because we must remain connected — as recently acknowledged by the World Health Organisation. Socializing is a fundamental human need, and social distancing hinders it, which ultimately affects our mental wellness. While the physical distancing may appropriately be enforced when necessary, the social aspect of our relationships must be strengthened to sustain our bonds and support the most vulnerable among us.

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