Social Inaction at Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemics

Social Inaction at Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemics

Holavin A.O.

M. Sci. (Pol.), Assoc. Researcher, European University at St. Petersburg, Russia; R&D Desk Officer, Transport and Telecommunication Institute (Riga, Latvia). Gothenburg, Sweden

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Holavin A.O. Social Inaction at Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemics. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2020. No 11. P. 139-148


COVID-19 pandemic has a tremendous effect of societies globally. From structural level down to everyday life routine social actors faced uncertainty, transformation of social norms, critical “breaking” of society. Some social practices have disappeared, whereas other emerged, with middle class and upper middle-class academicians readily adapting to new reality, whereas working class and people with low resources struggle to adapt. The study presents evidence of confusion and a “responsible citizen” identity-building by the Russian-speaking social scientists living in different European countries amid the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and associated lockdown policies implemented across the continent. Sociology of nothing theory by Susie Scott is used to explain conscious acts of commission and unconscious acts on omission to explain non-action, non-presence and non-participation united under the umbrella term “social inaction” in regard to following and ignoring the new social norms of the lockdown reality, as well as a stark critique of “coronavirus scepticism” by the authors of 16 autoethnographic observation diaries written from March to early April and collected in the framework of the initiative project “Virus Diaries: Chronicles of Daily Life” by the Gender Programme of the European University at St. Petersburg. Numerous “inactions” understood as “symbolic objects”, had been witnessed and reflected by most authors, leading to a conclusion of sustainability and relevance of the sociology of nothing theory for the social crisis analysis.

sociology of nothing; coronavirus; COVID-19 pandemic; autoethnography; non-action; social crisis; acts of commission; academic community


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Content No 11, 2020