Over the last few months, ISR has attempted to capture the EHU view of the pandemic. This proved to be wide-ranging, thought provoking and at times, challenging.
Yet a pandemic is by its very nature a global, or at a least trans-boundary phenomenon. We have seen many countries attempt to deal with the pandemic in different ways; from virtual house arrest in Spain and India, to Brazil and Sweden where lockdown approaches were rejected. There are even some countries that claim to be coronavirus free, though this list includes North Korea, and so its efficacy is questionable.
It of course remains to be seen which approach to the virus will have been the most successful. Likely it will take years, not months to assess, not only the absolute number of Covid-19 related deaths, but also the economic and social damage done by lockdowns of various types.
Of course, approaches to, and compliance with pandemic restrictions, are also culturally contextualised.
Previously the ISR blog looked at approaches to controlling the population in the Russian Federation and other former Eastern Bloc countries, where the legacy of accepting curtailment of individual freedom is still present; and thus have more readily accepted lockdown restrictions. Yet, without this legacy, the UK population has also demonstrated surprisingly high levels of compliance with the restrictions, attributed to our collective emotional commitment to the NHS. Conversely, in the USA there have been protests against lockdown measures and restrictions on individual liberties – an outcome that perhaps could have been predicted in ‘the land of the free’.
Responses to the management of the disease also appear to both conform and counter national stereo-types. The Germans, with their renowned efficiency have managed to carry out more daily testing than any other European country. Yet in Iran, lockdown measures, particularly under the threat of a second wave, have not been as draconian as we might expect.
Thus starting on June 15th, the next phase of the ISR Covid-19 blog will explore international perspectives on the pandemic. How have the different approaches to the virus been interpreted by our academic partners overseas? What are the key debates in their field of enquiry? How has it impacted their institutions? How has it impacted them individually?
To date, we have invited contributions from overseas academics with working relationships with EHU that are known to the core ISR team. However, we would like to invite all EHU staff to approach overseas contacts to seek their views. As with the blog in its previous form, we are looking for apolitical yet provocative contributions of approximately 500 words. Please send contributions via [email protected]
Prof Jo Crotty is Director of the Institute for Social Responsibility at Edge Hill University.