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Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources

During this time of global crisis, we have decided to turn our attention to COVID-19, focussing specifically on the sociological responses/implications of the epidemic. Below are the readings we will focus on each week as well as other news articles and resources. We aim to provide a space where diverse viewpoints are heard, and carry equal weight. We try to keep debate grounded in the material provided and usually chose the following week readings according to the direction of discussion.

If would like to join please contact Ginny Russell

1. Stick to your normal daily routine as best you can
2. Don’t beat yourself up if this breaks down a little
3. Give yourself internal and external space
4. Keep connected using phone and video links if possible
6. Lower your expectations, both for yourself and others
7. Keep up-to-date with news on the crisis no more than once a day from credible source
8. If you need time to vent, worry or wallow, set a time(r) for this
9. Internal worst-case scenarios most likely do not reflect reality
10. People are resourceful and often thrive in a crisis

During this time of global crisis, we have decided to turn our attention to COVID-19, focussing specifically on the sociological responses/implications of the epidemic. Below are the readings we will focus on each week. We aim to provide a space where diverse viewpoints are heard, and carry equal weight. We try to keep debate grounded in the material provided and usually chose the following week readings according to the direction of discussion.

If would like to join please contact Courtney Buckler:


Week 1:

Ferguson et al. (2020) Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID- 19 mortality and healthcare demand. Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team.

Sadati A K, B Lankarani M H, Bagheri Lankarani K. (2020) Risk Society, Global Vulnerability and Fragile Resilience; Sociological View on the Coronavirus OutbreakShiraz E-Med J.

Week 2:

Social Contagion: Microbiological Class War in China. Chu─âng

Hanage, W. (2020) I’m an epidemiologist. When I heard about Britain’s ‘herd immunity’ coronavirus plan, I thought it was satireGuardian 15th March 2020

Week 3:

Hannah, M. et al. (2020) Thinking Corona measures with Foucault.

Judith Butler. (2020) Capitalism has its limitsVerso [online blog], 30 March.

Week 4:

Johnstone, L. (2020) Why it’s healthy to be afraid in a crisisGuardian 25th March 2020.

In response to: Daley, P. (2020) We face a pandemic of mental health disorders. Those who do it hardest need our supportGuardian 24th March.

Week 5:

Racism is the root cause of ethnic inequities during covid-19Discover Society, 17th April 2020.
Taylor, K. (2020) The Black PlagueThe New Yorker, 16th April 2020.

Week 6:

Caduff, C. (2020) What Went Wrong: Corona and the world after the full stop.

Week 7:

Nik Brown’s recent book Immunitary Life – please get in touch with Courtney if you would like access to this reading.

Week 8: 

Greenhalgh et al (2020) Face masks for the public during the COVID-19 crisis.

Friedman (2020) Face masks are in: What the US can learn from East Asia about face masksThe Atlantic.

Week 9: 

Independent SAGE Report 2. Should schools reopen? Interim findings and concerns.

Leonard (2016) The sociology of children, childhood and generation.

Week 10: 

Jerreat (2020) ‘Coronavirus – the new scapegoat for media censorship, rights groups say
Williams (2020) ‘We often accuse the right of distorting science. But the left changed the coronavirus narrative overnight.’ 

Week 11:

Callard (2020) Very, very mild: Covid-19 symptoms and illness classification.
Greco (2012) The classification and nomenclature of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’: Conflict, performativity and critique

For those particularly interested in this topic, there are some optional extras:

Week 12: 

Mel Salm (2020) Anthropocene Diseased: A Provocation

Naomi Klein (2020) ‘We must not return to the pre-Covid status quo, only worse‘ The Guardian.

Week 13: 

Gruber, J. et al. (2020) Mental Health and Clinical Psychological Science in the Time of COVID-19: Challenges, Opportunities, and a Call to ActionAmerican Psychologist.

Rose, N. (2020) The social underpinnings of mental distress in the time of COVID-19 – time for urgent actionWellcome Open Research.


This is a live page and is constantly being updated with the latest news and articles.

“The Science” (and interaction with policy)

Coronavirus: how values drive decisions in science, not data, March 26, 2020

International Council for Science collection of contributions and responses:

UK Parliament Science & Tech Committee enquiry on the UK response to COVID-19

UK Parl Health and Social Care Cttee enquiry on Preparations for Coronavirus

UK Gov SAGE Cttee COVID reponse published evidence

The UK’s coronavirus policy may sound scientific. It isn’t (Weds 25th March)

Ed Yong (science journalist) critical pieces on COVID response in the US and UK:

On COVID tests - issues of tech infrastructure, pol choices over costs, legacies of SARS/MERS and the kinds of knowledge created by different kinds of testing.

On ‘The Science’ c.f. ‘science in motion’ (or indeed ‘in action’?)

Uncertainty, Experts, and COVID-19 

MacGregor (2020) Novelty and uncertainty: social science contributions to a response to COVID-19

Scoones (2020) Science, Uncertainty and the COVID-19 Response

Ars Technica (S&T magazine): rolling updated FAQ piece (good on uncertainties)

Abraar Karan (26th March 2020), On trust, experts and the brilliance of everyday people

MacGregor et al. (2020) Covid-19 - a social phenomenon requiring diverse expertise 


BBC article criticising the Imperial College modelling paper

Simplified version of Imperial College modelling paper

Coronavirus: A visual guide to the world in lockdown (this provides stats on different governments responses coded by severity of lockdown-source: Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker, BBC research

Biopolitics and COVID-19

Social Contagion: Microbiological class war in China

Why is the government relying on nudge theory to fight coronavirus? (13th March 2020)

Covid-19 coronavirus: You can get out in nature during the lockdown – but should you?

Diary of a cough (25th March 2020)

C-19 Covid-19 Symptom Tracker, Kings College LDN

Felipe Demetri (21st March 2020) Biopolitics and Coronavirus, or don’t forget Foucault

Short (2020) Biopolitical Economies of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Brown (2020) Studying COVID-19 in light of critical approaches to risk and uncertainty: research pathways, conceptual tools, and some magic from Mary Douglas

Hannah, Matthew (2020) Thinking Corona Measures with Foucault

Alexandre Christoyannopoulos (2020) Stop Calling the Coronavirus Pandemic a ‘War’ 


COVID-19 Experiences

Four Corners (2020) Coronavirus, how the deadly epidemic sparked a global emergency

Johnson (2020), COVID-19 and cancer: following Audre Lorde

Science Scholars and COVID-19

Latour (2020) Is this a dress rehearsal? 

Jones (2020) Perspective: History in a Crisis — Lessons for Covid-19

Lachenal & Thomas (March 30) COVID-19: When history has no lessons “No, we have not yet been in this movie. Maybe it is our responsibility as historians to say it.“ 

OUP History of Outbreaks Collection:

A Twitter thread of articles by historians, philosophers and social scientists

A Twitter thread of relevant articles from history and philosophy of biology:

Graham Scambler (25th March 2020) What social science can learn from COVID-19

Somatosphere Dispatches from the Pandemic series:

A compendium of STS and HPS scholars responses:

History on Call (2020)

  • This series of 3-5 minutes-long interviews with historians of science examines historical and philosophical perspectives on various aspects of the pandemic, and what the current situation may mean for scholarly work on the sciences. Put together by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

After COVID-19

Steven and Evans (18th March 2020) Planning for the world after COVID-19 [In World Politics Review]

Van Bavel et al. (2020) Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response PsyArcht Preprints

Light piece highlighting calls for change to wildlife trade: Coronavirus: Putting the spotlight on the global wildlife trade

COVID-19 and Social Justice

INQUEST (23rd March 2020) COVID-19: Protecting people in places of custody and detention

Herd Immunity

I’m an epidemiologist. When I heard about Britain’s ‘herd immunity’ coronavirus plan, I thought it was satire. (15th March 2020) 

Useful tracing of the documentation behind and timeline of science-policy advice for UK response: ‘The real reason the UK government pursued “herd immunity” – and why it was abandoned’ (Freedman, April 1)

Nik Brown new book ‘Immunitary Life: A Biopolitics of Immunity’ 

COVID-19 and Psychiatry

MadCovid (2020) Immy’s first Mad Covid Diary vlog — readjusting to life after hospital because of coronavirus 

Philip Strong (1990) Epidemic psychology: a model

Paul Daley, 24th March 2020, We face a pandemic of mental health disorders

Dr Lucy Johnstone, 27th March 2020. Why its healthy to be afraid in a crisis

Twitter thread in response to Lucy Johnstone’s article — debate around fear v. psychiatric “disorder”

Coronavirus Legislation + Mental Health Act 

Just Listening. 

Strong, P. (1990) Epidemic psychology: a model

UK Government, Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus 

Thomson (2020) Mental Illness is not a disease and therefore cannot be an epidemic 

Inequalities and COVID-19

Butler (2020) Capitalism has its limits

UK Parliament Enquiry: COVID-19 and the impact on people with protected characteristics

Walker (2020) Hungary Seeks to end legal recognition of trans people amidst COVID-19 crisis

Ganguli Mitra (2020) Social justice should be key to pandemic planning and response

Fisher and Bubola (2020) As coronavirus deepens inequality, inequality worsens its spread

Emily Maitlis has a rant about misleading language of parity, and inequality - corona infections  greatest amongst key workers who are poorest, lockdown will hit people in precarious jobs hardest


Jones (2020) The NHS is being ‘protected’ from those who need protecting most by rationing treatment based on eugenic ‘guidelines’

Arundhati Roy (2020) The Pandemic is a Portal, Financial Times

COVID-19 and Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities: A Joint Statement and Some Recommendations (27th March 2020)

Asian American Feminist Collective, Asian American Feminist Antibodies: Care in the time of coronavirus

Commons Library, Resource for activists during COVID-19

News article: India’s poorest ‘fear hunger may kill us before coronavirus’

Barnardo’s issue warning about increased witchcraft and spirit possession suspected during lockdown

Social Media

Coronavirus: How are the social media platforms responding to the ‘infodemic’?


Syllabi/Reading Lists

#CoronavirusSyllabus, a crowdsourced cross-disciplinary Google Doc created by Prof. Alondra Nelson from the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study

Teaching COVID-19, A Collaborative Anthropology Syllabus Project

INGSA’s site on evidence and policy-related scholarship around covid-19:

The Syllabus: Coronavirus Readings

Disaster STS Network:

Institute of Development Studies (2020) The social science response to the pandemic 

Rapid Ethnography: Collecting anthropological responses to COVID-19 

UCL, Medical Anthropology Syllabus on COVID-19

William San Martín, Alexandra Vlachos and Graeme Wynn (International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations) Epidemics & Ecologies: Reading in the time of COVID-19

Non COVID but relevant literature

Anderson, W. (2004). Natural histories of infectious disease: Ecological vision in twentieth-century biomedical science. Osiris, 19, 39–61.

Bivins, R. E. (2015). Contagious Communities: Medicine, Migration, and the NHS in Post-War Britain. Open University Press.  (history of the NHS, race and disease)

Crewe, T. (2018, September 27). Here was a plague. London Review of Books, 7–16. (on origin stories, ‘Patient Zero’ and HIV/AIDS

Brown, N. (2019). Immunitary Life: A Biopolitics of Immunity. Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Christley, R. M., Mort, M., Wynne, B., Wastling, J. M., Heathwaite, A. L., Pickup, R., Austin, Z., & Latham, S. M. (2013). “Wrong, but Useful”: Negotiating Uncertainty in Infectious Disease Modelling. PLoS ONE, 8(10), e76277–e76277. 

Degeling, C., & Kerridge, I. (2013). Hendra in the news: Public policy meets public morality in times of zoonotic uncertainty. Social Science & Medicine, 82(null), 156–163.

Degeling, C., Gilbert, G. L., Tambyah, P., Johnson, J., & Lysaght, T. (n.d.). One Health and Zoonotic Uncertainty in Singapore and Australia: Examining Different Regimes of Precaution in Outbreak Decision-Making. Public Health Ethics.

King, N. B. (2004). The Scale Politics of Emerging Diseases. Osiris, 19(2004), 62–76.

Lakoff, A. (2015). Real-time biopolitics: The actuary and the sentinel in global public health. Economy and Society, 44(1), 40–59. 

Mayor, E., Eicher, V., Bangerter, A., Gilles, I., Clemence, A., & Green, E. G. T. (2012). Dynamic social representations of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic: Shifting patterns of sense-making and blame. Public Understanding of Science, 22(8), 1011–1024.

Murphy, P. D. (2017). Lessons from the Zombie Apocalypse in Global Popular Culture: An Environmental Discourse Approach to the Walking Dead. Environmental Communication, 1–14.

Lynteris, C. (2016). The Prophetic Faculty of Epidemic Photography: Chinese Wet Markets and the Imagination of the Next Pandemic. Visual Anthropology, 29(2), 118–132.

Lupton, D. (2015). The pedagogy of disgust: The ethical, moral and political implications of using disgust in public health campaigns. Critical Public Health, 25(1), 4–14.

Nading, A. M. (2013). Humans, Animals, and Health: From Ecology to Entanglement. Environment and Society: Advances in Research, 4(1), 60–78.

Nerlich, B. (2007). Media, Metaphors and Modelling: How the UK Newspapers Reported the Epidemiological Modelling Controversy during the 2001 Foot and Mouth Outbreak. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 32(4), 432–457. 

Rosenberg, C. E. (1989). Disease in History: Frames and Framers. The Milbank Quarterly, 67, 1–15.

Rosenberg, C. E. (1992). Explaining Epidemics. Cambridge Core; Cambridge University Press.

Wilkinson, K. (2011). Organised Chaos: An Interpretive Approach to Evidence-Based Policy Making in Defra. Political Studies, 59(4), 959–977. 


Covid-19 and Popular Culture