The unprecedented 2019–20 fires, storms and pandemic highlight and intensify ongoing structural flaws in Australian society. The now common refrain is that we are all weathering the same storm, but in very different boats. Some of us relax in luxury yachts while others cling desperately to floating debris. Among Australians’ various experiences of the pandemic, the complexities of Melbourne’s social-housing lockdown demonstrated a microcosm of the issues at play, throwing harsh light onto the ongoing inadequacy of federal support for social housing and raising concerns about the over-policing of certain communities amid the intensifying context of Black Lives Matter. However, the lockdown also revealed the resilience of the communities impacted and the generosity of vast social networks in providing rapid, well-organised support.
This project is examining how LGBTIQ+ young people in Australia have been using social media platforms during COVID-19. The project examines the social media platforms they have participated on, how their behaviours have changed during the pandemic, and the impact of these technologies on their lives, particularly in relation to their health and wellbeing. The findings will support the development of key recommendations for social media platform design and practices, and be used to further understand digital technology use and engagement by LGBTIQ+ young people during this period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of teaching students the difference between real and fake or misleading news say the authors of a new report into news media literacy education. The News Literacy and Australian Teachers: How News Media is Taught in the Classroom report also recommends teachers be given more time, resources, and curriculum support to do so.
A collaboration between QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) and Western Sydney University’s Institute for Culture and Society, with funding from the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) and Google Australia, the report is the latest outcome of the Advancing the Media Literacy of Young Australians project and surveyed several hundred primary and secondary school teachers Australia-wide.
The (failed) promise of multimorbidity: chronicity, biomedical categories, and public health by Rebecca Lynch, Benjamin Hanckel, & Judith Green
Multimorbidity has become an increasingly prominent lens through which public health focuses on the ‘burden’ of ill health in ageing populations, with the promise of a more upstream and holistic approach. We use a situational analysis (drawing on documentary analysis and interviews with service providers, policy actors and people living with multiple conditions) in south London, UK, to explore what this lens brings into focus, and what it obscures.
How your income and where you live increase your likelihood of getting COVID-19 by Dr Youqing Fan, Alan Morris, and Awais Piracha
If you suspected that poorer areas in Sydney were far more likely to bear the brunt of COVID it looks like you are right. New research shows that in some areas people were not able to work from home during lockdown because the areas comprised a high proportion of labourers or admin workers and so were more likely than others to fall ill.
On Living in an Already Unsettled World: COVID as an Expression of Larger Transformations by Paul James and Manfred B. Steger
This article argues that the current Global Covid Crisis, just as with the 2008–2009 Global Financial Crisis, is part of massive disjunctures in the way we live locally and globally. Instead of leading to positive transformation, if the GFC offers any lessons, responses to the present global crisis suggest that attempts to return to business as usual will exacerbate those disjunctures rather than ameliorate them.
Unsettling Subjectivity Across Local, National, and Global Imaginaries: Producing an Unhappy Consciousness by Manfred B. Steger and Paul James
This article analyzes the complex and subtle dynamics involved in producing and representing the global-local nexus in everyday life. Its socio-historical context is the destabilization of the current globalization system—and its associated global imaginary—from financial crises to the the populist explosion in the mid 2010s, and climaxing in the 2020 Global COVID crisis.
Disjunctive Globalization in the Era of the Great Unsettling by Manfred B. Steger and Paul James
Globalization is now at its most disjunctive phase in human history. The essays suggests that the planetary COVID-19 crisis has combined with the vulnerabilities of global capitalism to break down social routines. Yet, the current moment of the Great Unsettling also offers a critical opportunity to take stock of the present state of globalization. To this end, this article revisits and re-engages some pertinent themes raised in the pathbreaking 1990 Theory Culture and Society issue ‘Global Culture’. In particular, the article explores the crucial role of structural divergences that have been developing among major formations of globalization.
Engaged Ethics in the Time of Covid: Caring for All, or Excluding Some from the Lifeboat? by Paul James
The essay is organized around a single claim. If good ethics is the process of ongoing dialogical deliberation on basic normative questions for the purpose of instituting principles for action, then the COVID crisis, or any crisis, is not a good time for developing ethical precepts on the run. Given dominant ethical trends, such reactive ethics tends to lead to either individualized struggles over the right way to act or hasty sets of guidelines that leave out contextualizing questions concerning regimes of care. Good people will find themselves suggesting strange things, from setting up lifeboat scenarios to supporting structural racism. This essay argues against both these paths—crisis-ridden agonism or algorithmic resource-allocation—and turns instead to a form of ethics of care which takes its departure from older forms of ethics, while recognizing that modern and postmodern challenges no longer allow their grounding in animated relations, natural rights, or cosmological truths.
The global pandemic is accelerating housing crises by Dallas Rogers and Emma R. Power
Editorial Essay: What is clear is that internationally we need to rethink how the public, private, and not-for-profit housing sectors are going to work together in the future. We need housing systems that recognise traditional rights to land and that work to address the problems that were created through models of housing provision that are based in an unfettered market and wealth accumulation. Housing journals and housing research have a key role to play in this debate, and will be key to putting hard evidence into the public, policy and other debates.
Global Media Journal Australia Special Issue: Covideology: Mediating the Significance of a Pandemic
This issue contains contributions by ICS members on a range of topics that approach the phenomenon of COVID from a raft of perspectives with close attention to mediation and public communications. Full issue can be accessed here (opens in a new window).
COVID-19 and the affective politics of congestion: an exploration of population density debates in Australia, by Sukhmani Khorana, Cultural Studies
This essay considers the post-COVID-19 debates over the level of migration to Australia to understand how the rhetoric of ‘affective congestion’ which is used for population management has changed. On the one hand, it demonstrates that the concerns of white bodies regarding congestion are taken more seriously by the political and media mainstream than those of new migrants. On the other, it shows that COVID-19 is bringing the injustice of this approach to light, as seen in the case of the harsh lockdown imposed on public housing estates in Melbourne.
Beyond the crisis: transitioning to a better world?, by Ien Ang, Cultural Studies
The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 is not just a short-term public health emergency. Instead, it has laid bare a broader and deeper organic crisis, produced by the intrinsic tensions and contradictions of the hegemonic neoliberal capitalist order. I discuss this organic crisis in terms of its active amplification of human divisiveness at various levels – class, racial, national, cultural – which impedes the generation of solidarity and cooperation in the name of a ‘common humanity’, required if humans are to live in harmony among each other and with the planet. By reflecting on a diverse range of barriers to such a desirable future, from the erosive role of human passions to the escalating new cold war between China and the West and the fundamental divisions exposed by the existential challenge of climate change, I argue that to have a chance of a liveable and equitable common future, we need to maintain a critical cosmopolitan horizon against the grain of self-interested closures and exclusions which underpin the organic crisis.
The State of Globality in a (Post)-COVID World, by Manfred B. Steger, New Global Studies.
This article assesses the current state of globality in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. It opens with a concise survey of influential meanings and uses of "globality" in extant global studies literature. Offering clarifications and definitions on two pertinent keyword - "globality" and "globalization" - this overview provides a careful conceptual delineation of these two concepts as a prerequisite for determining their casual relation: globalization (the process) shapes globality (the condition).
Subjecting pandemic sport to a sociological procedure, by David Rowe, Journal of Sociology.
COVID-19 exposed the inner workings of sport as a machine that could be disabled by its own global interdependency. This article applies a sociological analysis to sport before, during and after the pandemic, arguing that an emphasis on the relationships between human rights and cultural citizenship is required to improve the social institution of sport.
Below is a selection of academic commentary on issues related to COVID-19. For a full list of media appearances see ICS in the Media.
Opinion Articles and Essays
By Dr Benjamin Hanckel, and Dr Shiva Chandra, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. 15 March 2021
During COVID-19 lockdowns, a major concern for LGBTIQ+ communities, mental health professionals and academics was that young lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning, intersex and asexual+ people may suffer from being stuck in transphobic, biphobic or homophobic households. But encouragingly, our research found these young people largely managed to navigate these spaces successfully, by increasing their social media use, exploring identity through digital channels and finding safe ways to maintain family relationships.
By Dr Malini Sur
On March 22, 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited the public to demonstrate their appreciation for the Indian doctors and health workers who were battling COVID-19. At 5 p.m. the banging of plates, blowing of conch shells, and bursting of crackers reverberated in the air. One day later, the city of Kolkata reported its first death from COVID-19. Jostling crowds gathered to protest the cremation. Scared demonstrators held that the passage of the dead body through the locality and its cremation would spread the virus through the air.
Dr Vincent Ogu, Institute Associate, featured on the ABC, commenting on CVOID Vaccine rollout. Australia's vaccine rollout are about to be boosted with millions more eligible for a jab from Monday. So far just over 200,000 Australians have been vaccinated since the rollout began. Elias Clure followed three health professionals on the frontline of the rollout in Australia's suburbs and remote areas. Statement (opens in a new window) from the Department of Health.
By Dr Emma Power, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society. 4 December 2020
A new publication released by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) into the impact of COVID-19 on renters shows that older renters are more lonely than before the pandemic and are struggling financially. Dr Emma Power, from Western Sydney University’s School of Social Sciences and Institute for Culture and Society, analysed data as part of AHURI’s Rental Insights: A COVID Collection.
By Jack Parkin, Digital Economist and Adjunct Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society. 10 September 2020
A banknote has been sitting in my wallet for six months now. As time ticks on, it burns an ever greater hole in my pocket. At first I felt uneasy spending it, following COVID-19 warnings to pay more attention to hand hygiene and the surfaces we all touch on a daily basis.
By Cali Prince.
"Women’s Witness", a poem by our PhD candidate Cali Prince, features in a new book exploring how mothers are managing the new requirements of mother-work under the destabilising restraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. By way of creative art, poetry, photography and creative writing along with scholarly research, the collection seeks to make visible what has been invisibilised and render audible what has been silenced: the care and crisis of mother-work through and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the collection here (opens in a new window).
Australian data confirms coronavirus is more common in younger adults. People aged 20-29 have continually had the highest rates of COVID-19 cases. To reduce these rates and support young people to play their part in stemming community transmission, we need to understand their experiences during the pandemic.
By Cecelia Cmielewski. 14 August 2020
This week the NSW government’s arts funding arm, Create NSW, removed or significantly reduced funding to arts service organisations (opens in new window)Opens in a new window including Writing NSW, Playwriting Australia, the National Association of Visual Artists (NAVA) and Ausdance NSW. This short-sighted trend of cutting funding to arts organisations began several years ago.
By Emily-Kate Ringle-Harris. 25 June 2020
The visual arts in Australia have, like all arts, been profoundly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of galleries and markets; cancellation of art festivals; the isolation of artists from their communities; and inadequate financial support from the federal government, have all delivered a huge blow to the economies of the visual arts and weakened their capacity to engage with the public.
By Dr Sukhmani Khorana. 8 June 2020
While Australia has embraced the enrichment of local culture and food, the individuals who bring this enrichment have found themselves stranded and abandoned by Australian institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Sukhmani Khorana writes on the role food plays in migrant cultures, social support, and the resilient potential of multiculturalism.
By Dr Zoe Sofoulis. 29 May 2020
Pandemic lockdown policies focusing on traditional families and households can result in single people effectively living in solitary confinement. Adopting a ‘co-virality’ model may slightly increase viral risk but offers a major gain for mental health. Dr Zoe Sofoulis writes on this at Croakey.org and expands further in a blog post.
By Dan Musil, Professor Katherine Gibson, Associate Professor Marcelo Vieta (University of Toronto) and Dr Stephen Healy. 21 May 2020.
Research by the team suggests worker ownership should be a central plank to rebuild more sustainable, equal and resilient post-COVID-19 economies (opens in a new window). Benefits of working cooperatives include dignified work that supports workers and society at large, responsiveness to the communities and environments in which they operate, creation of social trust, fostering of worker innovation and resilience during tough economic times.
By Professor James Arvanitakis. 16 May 2020.
Professor James Arvanitakis writes about the impact of COVID-19 on American politics (opens in a new window)including how it may impact the upcoming election.
By Associate Professor Alana Lentin. 12 May 2020.
Associate Professor Alana Lentin writes that as coronavirus continues to rampage across the globe, it has become apparent that, while biologically the virus may not discriminate, it is having a much worse effect on people from ethnic minorities (opens in a new window).
By Dr Zelmarie Cantillon. 1 May 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis has made it clearer than ever how crucial arts and culture are to our everyday lives. We rely on arts and culture for entertainment, education and distraction, but also as an outlet to respond to unsettling circumstances.
By Dr Joanne Orlando. 29 April 2020.
Dr Joanne Orlando writes about children's voices being missing from the debate around schools reopening. Children are at the centre of this school dilemma (opens in a new window)so their experiences and views are important, she says.
By Professor Brett Neilson. 18 April 2020.
In part 2 of this Essay for the COMPAS Coronavirus and Mobility forum (opens in a new window), Professor Brett Neilson discusses the language of anticipation in regards to the predictability of the COVID outbreak and the relation of logistics to epidemiology. This piece has been translated and is now also available in Chinese.
By Professor Brett Neilson. 18 April 2020.
In part 1 of this Essay for the COMPAS Coronavirus and Mobility forum (opens in a new window), Professor Brett Neilson explores disruptions to supply chains and logistical networks occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the role force majeure plays in the transformation of capital currently underway. This piece has been translated and is now also available in Chinese.
By Professor James Arvanitakis. 18 April 2020.
Professor James Arvanitakis writes on the role of populism in American politics (opens in a new window)and how it is affecting responses to COVID-19.
By Dr Joanne Orlando. 10 April 2020.
COVID-19 has left parents grappling with the challenges of online learning, entertainment and work. It’s natural the amount of time children spend using screens will now increase. But that’s OK. There are ways to make the best of kids’ increased use of screens.
By Professor James Arvanitakis. 4 April 2020.
Professor James Arvanitakis writes that there are five dimensions of American life that may provide insights into the pandemic environment (opens in a new window)and how it could work for Trump despite his initial handling of the crisis.
By Philippa Collin, Dr Teresa Swist and UTS, University of Sydney and University of Melbourne colleagues. 3 April 2020.
Young people in Australia are among the fastest-growing group to contract COVID19. Our research has found that, contrary to popular belief, many young people in Australia are seriously concerned about the virus.
By Lisa Portolan. 31 March 2020.
When Tinder issued an in-app public service announcement regarding COVID-19 we all had a little laugh as a panoply of memes and gags hit the internet. Two weeks later the laughter has subsided, but the curiosity continues. How will singles mingle in the time of Corona?
By Lisa Portolan. 29 March 2020.
Love in the time of Corona is intensely felt. Or more accurately, people are intensely swiping right. It makes sense to some extent. As a result of COVID-19 and social distancing policies, more and more Australians are working and studying from home and that means a spike in dating app usage (opens in a new window).
By Emeritus Professor David Rowe. 28 March 2020.
There is a common saying that all politics is local. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should invent a new one: all sport is global. In a few short months, worries about sport – especially via the media – being only too available, have given way to complaints that live sport action has become as rare as panic-purchased toilet paper.
By Vanessa Whittington. 26 March 2020.
There are distinct parallels between the severe economic downturn of the 1930s and the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis in terms of mass business closures and worker layoffs. The Australian government has estimated that one million Australians could become unemployed as a result of the coronavirus.
By Dr Emma Power and University of Sydney and UNSW colleagues. 23 March 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a double crisis affecting public health and the economy. And both aspects are playing out in our housing system – in our homes. Our homes are the “first line of defence against the COVID-19 outbreak”, as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Housing puts it. But, depending on how our housing system responds, it could make the double crisis worse.
By Associate Professor George Morgan. 11 March 2020.
Associate Professor Morgan explains the impact of COVID-19 on casual and gig economy workers (opens in a new window)who face loss of income and precariousness.
By Dr Tanya Notley and Associate Professor Michael Dezuanni (QUT). 25 February 2020.
Like adults, children use the news to learn about what’s happening in the world. But the circulation of misinformation, such as the recent spread of fake news about COVID-19, blurs our understanding of events and issues. Here are three things you can do (whether you’re a teacher or parent) to help children critically think about the news.
Radio and Television Interviews
Professor James Arvanitakis regularly appears on ABC radio and television programs commenting on current news, American politics, and responses to COVID-19. Commentary includes 702 ABC Sydney (opens in a new window)(at 2:31:40) on his experiences of living in Wyoming and travelling within the USA, American politics and approaches to COVID-19; and ABC 24 Weekend Breakfast (syndicated nationally) on American politics including US President Donald Trump encouraging places of worship to open, controversial comments by Joe Biden and implications of postal votes, in May. Further comment on ABC 24 Weekend Breakfast, ABC News (syndicated nationally) and ABC 24 The Drum in April 2020.
1233 ABC Newcastle interviews Professor Paul James on male politicians and different countries' approaches to handling COVID-19. 22 May 2020.
2SER radio (opens in a new window) and The Wire interviews Associate Professor Karen Soldatic on the Senate inquiry into Newstart, the COVID-19 Supplement and the future of the JobSeeker Payment, and why it is important for people with disabilities to receive support through the Disability Support Pension. 6-7 May 2020.
702 ABC Sydney Afternoons interviews Associate Professor Shanthi Robertson on migration policy including economic consequences and impacts post-COVID-19 (syndicated to ABC Central Coast NSW). 702 ABC Sydney Focus interviews Associate Professor Robertson on the impacts of COVID-19 on international students and how government and universities are responding (syndicated to ABC Central Coast NSW, ABC Capricornia). 5-6 May 2020.
702 ABC Sydney Drive interviews Dr Joanne Orlando on how workplace practices might change as COVID-19 restrictions ease, and in the future (syndicated to ABC Central Coast NSW). Channel 7 Sunrise interviews Dr Joanne Orlando on children's screen time during COVID-19. ABC Radio Newcastle (opens in a new window)interviews Dr Orlando on tips for avoiding digital hoax requests. April and May 2020.
ABC Gippsland interviews PhD candidate Dan Musil, and secretary of Earthworker Cooperative in Victoria, on the future of manufacturing in Australia and the impacts of COVID-19, including the recent research by Professor Katherine Gibson and Dr Stephen Healy on a just and sustainable manufacturing culture in Australia. 27 April 2020.
ABC Newcastle Mornings (opens in a new window)interviews Professor Katherine Gibson on the future of manufacturing in Australia and how local manufacturers have been assisting with production during the COVID-19 pandemic. 6 April 2020.
3AW Radio (opens in a new window)interviews Associate Professor George Morgan on the financial vulnerability of casual workers who don’t have sick leave entitlements if they are unable to work due to Coronavirus (syndicated nationally). 12 March 2020.
Further Media Comment
Skye Tasker speaks to news.com.au on how she pivoted to examine trends in the context of coronavirus, and extensively interviewed a cohort of case studies aged 12 to 24. 31 August 2020
SBS News publishes comment by Associate Professor Shanthi Robertson on how attitudes towards migrants can be affected by an environment of economic uncertainty. 11 June 2020
ABC News quotes Dr Sukhmani Khorana on reconnecting with cultural practices during a pandemic. 5 June 2020
New York Times (opens in a new window)interviews Emeritus Professor David Rowe on Sydney during a time of stay at home orders and the value of moments outdoors (republished by by MSN Canada, MSN USA and others). 4 May 2020.
ABC News (opens in a new window)publishes comments by Dr Joanne Orlando on what comprises quality screen time for children (republished by MSN Australia). 1 May 2020.
The Conversation (opens in a new window)publishes an Open Letter to the Prime Minister to extend Coronavirus support to temporary workers. Associate Professor Shanthi Robertson is a signatory. 7 April 2020.
ABC News (opens in a new window)interviews Dr Joanne Orlando on how working remotely due to Coronavirus might change how people work in the future (republished by MSN Australia). 28 March 2020.
Comment by Emeritus Professor David Rowe on the negative effect on Australian sports fans of not being able to watch live sports is published in The Canberra Times (opens in a new window), 7 News (opens in a new window), Daily Mail Online (UK) and over 120 other outlets. ABC 24 News Afternoons and 720 ABC Perth interview Emeritus Professor Rowe on the implications the pandemic could have on the Tokyo Olympics and other large sporting events (syndicated to ABC 1 Perth). February and March 2020.