Public Sociology and the Pandemic

Oil painting of a subway sign about COVID-19. It shows an imprint of two hands. The message reads: have you washed your hands?

It’s been a long while! Over the past couple of months, in my paid work, I’ve been co-leading a large randomised control trial in public health. Hoping we can publish results in the new year. Our team is also busy researching issues of technology and safety. In my personal research, Associate Professor Alana Lentin and I wrapped up series 1 of Race in Society. We covered media representations; the lockdown and ableism; intersectionality; policing; and economics. I’ll bring you write ups of other episodes soon, or head to our YouTube to watch the videos.

In case you missed it, here are two interviews I gave earlier in the year, on the sociology of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the topics of moral panics and misinformation remain relevant.

Moral Panic

I was interviewed on 3CR Diaspora Blues about my article, Pandemic, race and moral panic. I talk about public sociology, which is how we bring sociological theories and research to broader audiences, using plain language, and by illustrating the application of sociology to contemporary social issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic. We discuss why my blog focuses on the concept of otherness, which is the study of how societies categorise social differences, and the inequality that flows from making this seem natural and normal. I discussed the conditions that create a moral panic, and how this has manifested in policy and media responses to the pandemic. I also explain benevolent paternalism during the pandemic (where governments make rules for racial minority groups, using the logic that it’s for “their own good”). We also cover how mismanagement of public health leads racialised communities to feel reluctant to trust government.

Listen below, or read a transcription on my website.

3RC Diaspora Blues Moral Panic with Dr Zuleyka Zevallos

Pandemic misinformation

I spoke with Angeline Chew Longshore from The Mauimama about my article, “Using sociology to think critically about Coronavirus COVID-19 studies.” We discussed how national cultures are impacting responses to the virus, why precarious employment in healthcare is causing high rates of infection, and how we can better check whether the information we hear is credible.

Watch below, or head to my website for an accessible transcription.