Narrating the pandemic: COVID-19 as a feature of Turkey’s political landscape

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s 2018 presidential election victory appeared to seal his party’s domination over Turkey’s politics until the end of his term in 2023, or even 2028. Since this victory however, he has presided over an ailing economy. The Turkish lira has plummeted, foreign reserves have shrunk as the Central bank intervened to stabilise the currency, and external debt mounted until Qatar, in May 2020 gave the country’s economy a temporary reprieve.

Concurrently, a number of “rising stars” are waiting in the wings. These include the, 2019 İstanbul mayoral election winner, Ekrem İmamoğlu, and former Erdoğan ally Ali Babacan .  They are both preparing for the post-Erdoğan era by cultivating their charisma and political capital, causing concerns over Erdoğan’s re-election chances.

Erdoğan sought to deflect attention from the country’s woes through a controversial hard power projection exercise. Turkey’s involvement in Syria where it is responsible for the administration of territories it has occupied, its military presence in Libya, and Iraqi Kurdistan,  and its Blue Homeland maritime doctrine have all been presented within the country as evidence of Turkey’s regional strength.

It was against this backdrop that the COVID-19 pandemic reached Turkey. From the outset, the government sought to take narrative control of the spread of the virus in order to mitigate the potential cost and to deflect criticisms that might give an advantage to its opponents.

Erdoğan, reluctant to introduce a full lockdown, called for businesses to stay open and keep the economy’s “wheels turning“, and the government was slow in implementing measures that would hurt the fragile economy, and its own survival.

As unions accused it of disregarding the risk to workers, and Turkey’s reporting of COVID-19 cases was scrutinized by experts who suggested that cases and fatalities were underreported, the government took punitive measures to control criticism.

Medical personnel were reprimanded for speaking out on social media. 410 people were detained for “provocative and abusive” posts, including seven journalists, and TV channels were fined for their coverage, including Habertürk, whose medical expert insinuated that there were many undiagnosed cases, far exceeding confirmed case figures.

Such measures, combined with the government’s control of Turkey’s main media allowed Erdoğan to project an image of strong leadership and claim global recognition for Turkey’s contribution in combatting the pandemic. Erdoğan launched a donation campaign to support the needy, while he blocked a similar drive by his rival Ekrem İmamoğlu, to starve him of public attention.

Pro-government media praised Turkey’s pandemic management, benefits and social support measures, the construction of two pandemic hospitals “within 45 days”, and the government’s “Economic Stability Shield” programme.  Focus was also placed on the government’s preferred power projection narrative of Turkey as a global actor, highlighting Turkey’s sending of medical supplies, personal protective equipment, medicines and ventilators to hard-pressed countries, and their expressions of gratitude.

Erdoğan’s control of the pandemic narrative seems to be paying dividends, with his approval rating recovering from February’s 41.1 percent to 55.8 percent in March with his “strong leadership” projection appealing to supporters from the opposition parties.

COVID-19 has revealed that Turkish voters might be attracted to “strong leadership” more than “democratic promise” and has, perhaps, dismissed rumours of the demise of populism as no more than wishful thinking.

Spyros A. Sofos is a Research Coordinator in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University.


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Caught in the middle? Italy and China after COVID-19

If we look only at trade figures, Sino-Italian relations might not be considered worth our attention. In fact, they are very lop-sided. For Italy, China is not a significant partner, accounting for 3.4% of exports and 7.2% of imports. For China, Italy is even less important, representing less than 1% of both imports and exports. So why should we bother?

There are at least two reasons to be interested in Sino-Italian relations.

The first is that bilateral trade explains only a part of the economic interconnections, since China and Italy are linked through complex global supply chains that involve other countries. For example, automotive components produced in Italy that are exported to Germany, end up in China in the export of German cars.

The second reason has to do with the global implications of the political economy of bilateral relations, before and after COVID-19.

Italy is a highly-indebted country with a public debt/GDP ratio that was already one of the highest in the West and is expected to grow further. In addition, the Italian manufacturing structure – based on small and  medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – is often undercapitalized. This indebtedness will be put under further pressure, due to lack of demand and liquidity constraints arising from the pandemic.

The stronger presence of Chinese investors in Italy is considered a serious concern both in Europe and in the US; as Italy is seen as a possible Trojan horse for Chinese interests in the EU – especially after Italy signed in 2019 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The decoupling of the US economy from China may also influence Sino-Italian relations, as trade and investment in technology could be limited by eventual American sanctions. Italy’s room to manoeuvre will depend then on how the US-China relations will evolve.

In the medium term, Italy needs to develop its own Chinese strategy, defined within the EU framework. Only an EU-wide common strategy will open some space for Rome to shape a more tailored approach to Italy’s specific needs and interests, but at the same time coherent with the Italian Republic’s long-term foreign policy pillars; Europeanism and Atlantism.

In the longer term, Italy must avoid being caught in the middle of rising Sino-American competition over its economic spoils.

This post is an excerpt from “Italy After COVID-19”, a forthcoming book edited by Andrea Goldstein and Giorgio Bellettini (Bononia University Press).

Giuseppe Gabusi is Assistant Professor of International Political Economy and Political Economy of East Asia at the University of Turin.

Giorgio Prodi is Associate Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Ferrara.


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Covid-19 and Nigeria

Nigeria confirmed their first COVID-19 case on 27th February and since then Nigeria’s centre for disease control has been the leading institution for reporting and tackling the pandemic.

By June 2020, there were 22,020 cases and 542 deaths recorded.

Nigerians have to adapt to a new reality, after initially only hearing the news via media platforms regarding the effect of the virus. COVID-19 has been with us for four months and has already had a dramatic effect on daily lives in Nigeria.

Firstly, it has affected the economy, as the government was forced to review its economic policy and diversify away from an over-reliance on crude oil. The price of crude oil crashed, from $60 in 2019 to $20 per barrel in March 2020, as globally people are travelling much less. As a result, the economy is rapidly declining and without care, the country may enter into recession.

The spread of COVID-19 led to lockdown in several states, including the economic centre of Lagos State; there were very few economic activities during the lockdown. The temporary halt in economics has affected many small-scale businesses and some are already folding. Several companies have to lay off workers and it is projected that almost 40 million Nigerians (more than the entire population of Poland), may lose their job as a result of the pandemic.

Lockdown has also been extremely challenging for Nigerian people, particularly those living in overcrowded areas. People were expected to stay at home 24 hours per day; yet in March and April temperatures often average 45 degrees centigrade, and there were frequent power cuts.

Moreover, there were widespread reports of police brutality and the UN estimates that at least 18 people have been killed by the police enforcing lock down restrictions.

COVID-19 has also increased food insecurity and many Nigerians are at risk of hunger.

Even before the pandemic, there were food shortages reported in Nigeria. In 2018, The World Health Organization reported that Nigeria was overburdened by three main malnutrition indicators: anemia, overweight, and stunting.

The educational system is also grounded as virtual classes are limited, as many families and schools do not have access to the resources needed to facilitate this.

However, there are some positive effects. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the state of health care system in Nigeria and this forced the government to declare a state of emergency in the health sector. The health sector has gradually improved to tackle the pandemic. One such improvement has been the Ogun state government announcing the first modern molecular laboratory in the state.

This pandemic also promotes goodwill among Nigerians; it has brought people together to support community members, providing aid for the most vulnerable.

Finally, COVID-19 has brought out the creativity in Nigerians – people made face masks from local materials, mobile apps were developed and some tertiary institutions developed ventilators. There are also breakthroughs in the development of vaccines reported.

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for Nigeria but there is hope at the end of the tunnel.

Olayemi Michael Godwin, is a BSc. Nutrition and Dietetics student at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Nigeria. He lives in Ogun State Nigeria.

Dr Julie Abayomi is an Associate Head of Applied Health & Social Care at EHU, and a Reader in Dietetics.


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A New Cold War? Can we maintain good academic relationships with China post Covid-19?

As a social scientist working in the field of Chinese politics, I note with interest the speed with which perceptions of China changed these last months. A Cold War mentality is detectable.

We hear from many parts of the world that China’s rise as a superpower is a challenge to the status quo. Politicians and media often label China’s Party-state as an illiberal regime. Nobody should trust it to play a positive role globally, not even in science.

Such criticisms have accelerated and turned into a movement-like wave, especially so under the Trump presidency. In the US, it has reached the level of a shrill crescendo during the Corona crisis.

Shrill as the criticisms may seem, China’s claims to innocence are no less high-pitched. China’s authoritarian Party-state has little tolerance with critics, neither abroad nor at home. This is especially true under Xi Jinping’s leadership, and more so during the Corona crisis. China’s leadership is not shy about admitting it.

While the Communist Party pursues an active and engaging science diplomacy internationally, it has strengthened its control with the organization of the country’s research environments; it demands political loyalty from the field and openly criticizes Chinese researchers with liberal inclinations or international connections.

At the same time, some governments, think tanks and media across the world accuse Chinese researchers of seeking to influence foreign research environments or to exploit them for illicit purposes, with the backing of the Chinese Party-state. Chinese entities of different hues have also come under critical scrutiny in the US and the EU. They are handled with suspicion; they may be sanctioned or even barred from entry or further operation.

At home, I was quite surprised to learn that after 10 years of collaboration, that my university one-sidedly scrapped the ongoing collaboration with Fudan University without discussion.

Navigating this fast-changing landscape is not easy for us or for Chinese social scientists. Last year I wrote about concerns for academic freedom in social science in China, and the Corona crisis has been a time for reflection about the way to counteract this.

Yet, although we are under pressure to accommodate public opinion, and the Communist Party of China demands that our Chinese colleagues align with their ideas, our common enterprise must still be that of independent critical research.

China will not go away; we must find new ways to do research on China and work with our Chinese partners in responsible and transparent ways, while dealing with the changing perceptions and the escalating Cold War mentality that pervades scientific collaboration. We must insist with our trusted partners that we maintain the bridges that we spent decades to build. Tearing then down is unfortunately much easier than building them.

Jørgen Delman is Professor of China Studies at Department of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies (ToRS), University of Copenhagen


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“In times of trouble the wise built a bridge and the fool a dam” a Nigerian proverb.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its ripple effects became real in South Africa with lock down at the end of March 2020.

No one, not the most prepared, respected or skilled lecturer, could have prepared for what was to come. 

Initially, we higher education lecturers, waited patiently for the government and Minister of Higher Education to guide us. 

Initially staff development programs at South African universities tried to prepare academics for the huge shift from classrooms to E-learning. 

I attended, like a life-long learner, these attempts to guide us to the new, virtual world.  After three workshops I realized these are a little bit like sending a letter to an agony aunt.  You have something to say, but expect to get someone else’s advice.  And can they talk in these workshops!

The next wave hit. 

Our students, often from disadvantaged backgrounds and rural areas, did not have the equipment or access to the internet to make e-learning work.

In Africa, there is a local clothing store, which provides cheap, colorful clothes at reasonable price to people.  The local clothing store became the distribution point in all rural areas for students who have no access to technology and data, and have to do paper based assessment.

As for me, I am skilled with technology, but often, it is not the knowledge that you transfer, but the questions you ask. I made a prompt decision to keep my online classes formal and well balanced. The basic instructions remain the same, despite the resources or technology used.  Be blunt, to the point. Tell the students what to do, and how to do it.  Be precise, say what you want from them and give guided instructions to get to the point.  Remain accessible, but keep to mutual respect and formal academic language.  It is as plain as you can, contact me, whenever you want, by sending an email.  Ensure to include documentation you are referring to and evidence of your attempts to master the outcomes.  Plan well ahead and submit in time.        

In Africa we built a bridge, one way or another, via a clothing store, and stay away from the water and the dam.

Dr Irene Muller, Lecturer, North West University, Vanderbijlpark Campus, South Africa


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Observing Different Worlds: Action Research and the Musical Learning Community

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic began five members of the Action Research Network of the Americas established a foundation. The Musical Learning Action Research Community was approved. A month later, we had a fortunate encounter with another member working from Java, Indonesia, and now this action research community is working on 16 different projects to enrich and capture the cultural perspective of the current situation across continents.

We have been documenting the personal testimonies through education processes, video recordings, interviews, public dialogue, artistic creations, observations, and documents. In so doing we have analyzed the multiple ways in which people improvise and adapt to something so all consuming, and unexpected.

Around the world, we have observed the vast disparities prompted by current social systems. In Ecuador, we have seen how private universities were able to afford the migration to virtual platforms, capacitating faculty, and helping students. Meanwhile, public universities have been defunded, faculty dismissed, and students left to protest in the streets.

In North America, some schools were able to provide devices for every student to enjoy connectivity; others were not so fortunate. In South America, we observed cases where parents had to choose between risking their health by working the streets, or letting hunger be their families’ destiny. In parts of the Americas and Asia, we have seen how students had to wait for their parents to get back so they could share one phone among two or three siblings to connect with teachers.

Cultural differences between urban and rural responses to the pandemic have prompted us to reflect. In urban centers, confinement, curfews, and instilling fear in each other became the norm. Despite this in, Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, corpses laid unattended to decompose in the streets after the health and funerary systems collapsed.

In contrast, rural areas relied heavily on their community work and used togetherness as the drive to overcome hardship. On the island of Java in Indonesia, there was a revalorization – the process of resetting the value of something – of the relationship with the soil and agriculture.

Such a process led to the development of farming initiatives to provide food to those in need.

Despite the geography that tries to distant us, we keep growing close. We have relied on each other to keep advancing educational, cultural, and artistic work. Without such togetherness, it would not have been possible to share this with you.

Musical Learning Community:

Víctor Manuel Rubio Carrillo, PhD candidate, Frost School of Music, University of Miami

With assistance from

Natalie Vanessa Lopez, Fulford Elementary School

Joshua Argueta, Sweetwater Elementary School

David Fernando Echeverría Valencia, Universidad de los Hemisferios

Sebastián López Prado, Colegio de Bachillerato en Artes Luis Humberto Salgado Torres

Cristina Duque, Indonesian Art Institute of Yogyakarta


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A View from China: Will COVID-19 Change the Way We Teach?

Isolating at home has become the norm, in what feels like an ultra-long winter vacation!

The Chinese Ministry of Education has decreed that “classes will be suspended, without school suspension” and so, like the rest of the world, we have had to turn to the webcast.

Webcast teaching has a number of advantages. It provides students with a more flexible way of learning, with some watching ‘live’, whilst others can, so long as they can access the Internet, undertake their learning when it is convenient.

There are also many online live teaching platforms, our class models are live broadcast, mu class, conference room, QQ group, WeChat group and so on. Teachers and students choose what is suitable for them, according to their own needs.

Most of the live broadcast software has recording and broadcasting function, and in places where you don’t understand or didn’t pay attention (and we all lapse at times), you can go back and review.

Immersive teaching videos are also far more vivid than words. After watching the teaching video online, students can also leave messages and send e-mails to the teacher about problems they do not understand; providing that two-way interaction and feedback that we all miss when we are not face-to-face.

Of course, there are also some challenges in online teaching.

Colleges and universities all over the country launched “online teaching” all at the same time. Due to too many people online at once, there have been problems such as stutter, flicker, and the continuous spooling circle.

Students also have to download and be familiar with many platforms, and there is not enough mobile space. Some students have also reported they have been busy downloading and learning to use the major online course applications had added to the stress of being a student.

There are also some students who live in remote mountainous areas who have to find the Internet on foot every day; and so it can take a lot of trouble to attend classes.

At the same time, online teaching challenges a student’s autonomous learning ability.

Many teachers say that in the classroom, teachers have more control over students, and it is difficult for students to escape from the teacher’s gaze. Online teachers can only see on-screen comments and ‘likes’, and it is difficult to evaluate students’ learning status immediately. There are also many students reflect that the environment at home is not as good as the classroom; noisier, more interference, and so learning efficiency is not so high.

No doubt these problems are universal – and so it will be interesting to see how many of these practices we retain, and how many we give up, when teaching in physical classrooms resumes.

Su Hong is a Senior Nurse Lecturer at Harbin Medical University Daqing. She also collaborates with staff at Edge Hill University


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Coping During the Current Global Pandemic: A View from Australia

The current COVID pandemic has hit us all both professionally and personally. Personally, I am very relaxed and easy-going person who manages stress in my work and personal life easily through a combination of regular exercise, prioritizing, and controlling what I can control and not worrying about what I cannot control.

The current pandemic is one of those uncontrollables!

However, the dramatic change imposed on both my personal life and my work life, did see my stress levels initially rise before becoming aware of the need to cope better using the mechanisms above and ensuring I stay connected with colleagues at work and friends in my personal life. Sharing the ‘pain’ and uncertainty of the future openly!

Professionally, the Australian University sector has been hit hard because of the pandemic and closure of both international and state borders. The Australian tertiary education sector has a very strong reliance on international students mainly from China. Indeed, in the state of New South Wales, 32% of the combined $11.4 billion revenue is from international students.

In Australia, 46,480 international students arrived in April 2019.

In April 2020 that figure was 30!

A huge impact on enrolment numbers and thus income to both universities and the local and Australian economy.

While my own not-for-profit University has not been as strongly impacted by a downturn in student numbers, most government-funded Universities have been hit hard due to a on over-reliance on fee-paying international students over many years.

This over-reliance has recently been exaggerated by growing political tension between China and Australia who have a strong reliance and strategic defense partnership with Donald Trump’s USA. Indeed, over recent weeks the COVID-related downturn in international student numbers has been hit again by China openly discouraging students from attending Australian universities. 

The major impacts of the downturn in income from fee-paying students have seen many Australian Universities, including our leading sandstone Universities, shedding both academic and professional staff with research income-dependent staff the most at risk.

While my own University has not seen redundancies, no new positions are being advertised, sessional staff are not being utilized as much, and both academic and professional staff are being encouraged to take accumulated leave to assist budgeting. Morale is still high and the leadership open and transparent. We promote a ‘we are in this together’ approach and include students in this approach. To facilitate this dramatic change in delivery, an extra two weeks leave were added onto the between semester break. This extra time allowed our Office of Learning and Teaching to upskill teaching staff on best practice for remote delivery and to prepare students via video-updates on how to learn most effectively in remote mode. This approach appears to have worked.

Within Australia we appear have managed the pandemic better than most. We wish our colleagues in Europe and the UK well during these challenging times. We are all in this together!      

Peter Reaburn – Professor and Head, Exercise and Sport Science, Bond University, Australia.


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The Asian Century is Underway – but will Universities in the West lose out?

UK universities suffer worst-ever rankings in world league table while Asian institutions rise.

Sure, we can blame a lot on a nasty virus, but truth is we all know this has been building up for some time. If you are surprised that the Asian Century is now well and truly underway then frankly you’ve not been paying attention.

It’s 15 years since Joseph E. Stiglitz duly predicted this would be the ‘Chinese Century’ and nothing that has happened since suggests he was wrong. If you require any further evidence that The Future is Asian, then I suggest you read Parag Khanna’s book (2019) of the same title.

I am shortly to do professional development with UK Independent Schools, advising them on how to combat this emergent paradigm in their marketing to potential Asian students; a market suddenly in decline. And yes, there are solutions, but none will come easy.

Western universities don’t yet know just how big a drop there will be in international student enrolment, but it will be severe.

In the UK alone, the number of Chinese applicants for a Tier 1 visa (a common route for wealthy students to study in the UK) is down 72% in the first three months of this year. While Asian-based student recruitment agencies report a 90% drop in interest in UK education destinations and a staggering 95% drop for USA, Australian, French and German schools and universities.

Covid-19 is most definitely contributing to the problem, but that alone doesn’t explain why WeChat groups across China are currently flooded with comments such as these:

“Many of us are very surprised at how poorly some advanced countries in Western Europe have handled the pandemic. We always thought that both the quality of life and health in Western societies were far better than in China, but now our views have changed.”

(Alice Tan, business owner based in Guangzhou)

Sure, you can blame individual politicians but perhaps the cause is deeper rooted than simply the failings of two blustering, inadequate political leaders.

The Chinese government has many problems, but the pandemic makes me feel that foreign countries’ governments have even bigger ones. We (Chinese) will all have second thoughts [about the attractions of the West] from now on.”

(Richard Shen, a white-collar worker for a foreign firm in Shanghai, whose family run two chain restaurants in the city)

These comments provide stark evidence of a turn away from the West, with urban rich Asians critically reappraising any assumptions they once held that the West, especially its culture and politics, is the model for Asians to follow.

Consequently, in the near future an existential line will be crossed – we may be crossing it now – and that line will be when Western is no longer seen as the default orientation for ambitious Asian global citizens blessed with material and cultural capital.

Dr Stephen Whitehead lives in Thailand, where he works as a consultant for international schools and as Lead Writer for Educational Digest International.


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Tip of the iceberg: COVID-19 and the welfare state in Israel

It is probably known to most readers of this column that Israel is home to an existential conflict between national-ethnic groups. This conflict is often manifest in clashes between narratives on how Israel was established, and the history of the very land upon which it sits. Yet, few realize how polarized the discourse among Israelis concerning their country’s future is; specifically regarding the best ways to maintain its achievements and sustain social and economic growth.

The Israeli welfare state, as a departure point or conceptual framework for this discourse, is difficult to describe definitively. Today it is commonly outlined as a hybrid welfare state, joining Western liberal elements with Middle Eastern, collectivist, traditional characteristics. In the past decade, Israel’s GDP has increased at a higher rate than the OECD average. On the other hand, Israel’s poverty rate is one of the highest in the West. Israelis also report low trust in their state’s institutions, yet high levels of satisfaction with their lives in general.

Against the backdrop of these inconsistencies, various voices over the years have increased in volume, cautioning that our economic growth, high quality of life, and stable labor market are enjoyed by only a specific segment of Israeli society, and that social distress on a huge scale crouches, poised to pounce, behind these “blue-ribbon” numbers, in both social strata that struggle with poverty and sidelining, as well as in the middle class, which is an “endangered species”.

COVID-19 landed meteor-like onto this complex reality, and has generated multi-level effects.

Take for example the trajectory of Israel’s unemployment rate in the past two months: In February, unemployment was 3.2%. In April, the number of unemployed surpassed one million Israelis for the first time (representing a 25% rate of unemployment). Interestingly, in Hebrew, the word for an unemployed individual is muvtál, which contains an element of disparagement hinting that the person is a malingerer. Pre-corona, when few Israelis were unemployed, the media referred to them as muvtalìm [pl. form of muvtál] as a matter of course. In mid-March, when the number of unemployed Israelis stood at 600,000, the media began referring to them as chasrèi avodá, or “[those] without employment”. When the number of unemployed climbed to a million and counting, coverage of them mainly referred to dorshèi avodá or “job seekers”. These apparently semantic differences may represent a window of opportunity to press forward with asking more probing questions about the social and economic vulnerability and sustainability of many Israelis.

Now what? Several Israeli civil society organizations, as well as academics, are identifying a shift in Israel’s social discourse, and are engaged in raising awareness of all of those forms of distress that plague Israeli society and still lie beneath the tip of the iceberg exposed by COVID-19. Should these efforts materialize in more just, inclusive and effective policies, Israel’s social preparedness for any future crisis that comes our way, will certainly improve.

Lia Levin, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer at the Bob Shapell School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University, Israel, and is the Head of Tel Aviv University’s Policy Practice Clinic.


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Seeking International Perspectives on a Global Pandemic

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

Prof Jo Crotty is Director of the Institute for Social Responsibility at Edge Hill University.


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