Author Archives: Robert Dingwall

Socio-cultural reflections on face coverings must not ignore the negative consequences

…Compulsory policies on face coverings have been introduced primarily on the basis of biomedical evidence, with limited input from other disciplines, for example the social sciences and engineering. Given the challenges Covid-19 has created for society, never has there been a greater need for meaningful interdisciplinary dialogue… Westhuizen and colleagues’ engagement with ideas beyond the… Read More »

Patrician policymaking

…policies have been made by people with very narrow life experiences and imposed on others with whom there is ‘no intercourse and no sympathy’…This indifference is as true of our scientific and medical elites as of our politicians and public servants. Although STEM disciplines have traditional been ladders of social mobility, we are seeing the… Read More »

Is Covid-19 a disease?

Let us first understand that ‘disease’, ‘illness’ and ‘infection’ are not categories that are given to us by nature. They are human moral judgements about the undesirability of the impact of certain microorganisms on ourselves, and a few favoured plant and animal species that are particularly relevant to us. Most of the sciences that study… Read More »

Now online – The debate around face coverings for the public during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had enormous effects on health, wellbeing, and economies worldwide. Governments have responded with rapid and sometimes radical public health interventions. As nations grapple with the question of how to regain normality without unnecessarily endangering lives or healthcare systems, some scientists have argued for policies to encourage or compel the use of… Read More »

Could we live with a ‘second influenza’?

Somewhere along the line we have lost a sense of proportion about the Covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning, we were rightly concerned that a novel virus, to which human populations had never been exposed, might represent an existential threat to our species. This justified rapid, and often poorly-evidenced, actions to interrupt transmission of the infection.… Read More »

The ‘New Normal’: Webinar with Culture, Mind & Brain group, McGill University

21 May 2020 PANELISTS: 2:00 Samuel Veissière (McGill): Introductory remarks on the ‘infodemic’, the role of the Internet, and pre-existing social pathologies 2:15 Cécile Rousseau (McGill): Symptoms – Virtue – War 2:30 Stefan Ecks (Edinburgh): The importance of social science in pandemic epidemiology 2:45 Robert Dingwall (Nottingham Trent): The three social pandemics: fear, explanation and… Read More »

How do pandemics end?

In the midst of the present chaos, it is easy to forget that the world has had pandemics before and that they have come to an end. Can we learn anything from these experiences that might help us in dealing with Covid-19? Note first that no pandemic has actually wiped out humanity. While this may… Read More »

Covid-19: We cannot sit in our own little bubbles forever…

“The lockdown is loosening, but life is nowhere near back to normal. As schools and businesses reopen, they are being asked to follow social-distancing rules, keeping everyone two metres apart. But is all of this disruption worth it, particularly as the pandemic recedes from view? Many are also still afraid to go back to work,… Read More »