1st Edition

Pandemic Response and the Cost of Lockdowns Global Debates from Humanities and Social Sciences

    250 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Pandemic Response and the Cost of Lockdowns brings the vast analytical apparatus of the humanities and social sciences to the task of critically analysing the political decisions taken in 2020–21.

    The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic left little time for critical debate about the impact of lockdowns. Across the world, governments claimed to "follow the science", but they rarely paid attention to the humanities and social sciences. Indeed, the absence of these perspectives is symptomatic of a longer-term trend in the marginalisation of the humanities and social sciences in policymaking and public debate. This book exposes the tragic consequences of this omission in 2020–21 and demonstrates the potential for a different path in the future – a path in which we pay attention to power, complexity, and our biases. The authors establish what these disciplines have to offer in a global emergency and how we can ensure they help us avoid the mistakes of 2020–21 in the future.

    This original and interdisciplinary book will be of great interest to students, scholars, and researchers throughout the humanities and social sciences, including the fields of philosophy, sociology, anthropology, law, political science, and history, as well as relevant policymakers.

    Introduction: The Role of Humanities and Social Sciences at a Time of Crisis

    Peter Sutoris and Sinéad Murphy

    Section 1: Key Covid Concepts Re-examined

    1. The "Lockdown Consensus" in the UK and the Dangers of Performative Scientism

    Anthony Mckeown

    2. Stopping the Spread of Health

    Sinéad Murphy

    3. Pandemic Response, Cultural Anthropology, and "The Myth of the Caring Society"

    Peter Sutoris

    4. Digital Society, Algorithmic Harm, and the Pandemic Response

    Mark Wong

    5. Against the Logic of Immunity: Philosophy and the Epidemic

    Michael Lewis

    Section 2: Pandemic Policy and the Global South

    6. How the World's Harshest Lockdown Unleashed a Humanitarian Crisis

    Kunal R. Purohit

    7. COVID-19 in Angola: Militarization of Lockdown Language and State Policy in Angola

    Fernandes Wanda

    8. The Economic Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown Policies in Argentina

    Maddalena Cevese

    9. An Analysis of the Socioeconomic Impacts of the Lockdown Policy in Ghana

    Samuel Adu-Gyamfi

    10.The COVID-19 Syndemic and Lessons (Not) Learned from Past Epidemics: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

    Llanos Ortiz-Montero

    Section 3: Alternative Lenses on Pandemic Response

    11. The Proportionality of Lockdowns

    Kai Möller

    12. Lockdowns and Intergenerational Justice

    Yossi Nehushtan

    13. Lockdown Lived Experience, Illness, Power, and Epistemic Injustice

    Roxana Baiasu

    14. What We Lost in Lockdown

    Matthew Ratcliffe

    15. Do Lockdowns Work for Women? The Gendered Impacts of the Pandemic and Policy Responses

    Rose Cook and Aleida Mendes Borges


    Peter Sutoris is Assistant Professor in Education at the University of York, UK, and Honorary Senior Research Associate at University College London, UK. He is an environmental anthropologist.

    Sinéad Murphy is an Associate Researcher in Philosophy at Newcastle University, UK.

    Aleida Mendes Borges is a Research Associate at the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, UK, where she leads the Women Grassroots Leaders research stream. She is a jurist, specialising in International Public Law (Human Rights).

    Yossi Nehushtan is Professor of Law and Philosophy, Founder and General Editor of the Keele Law Review, and Co-Director of the MA in Human Rights at Keele University, UK.

    "This is an important book, which will become required reading for scholars and students of pandemic lockdowns. It is the first volume to offer a genuinely interdisciplinary approach from the humanities and social sciences which addresses as a totality the humanistic and social costs of lockdowns. By the end of the book, the reader is in no doubt that, had perspectives from the humanities and social sciences been incorporated into the pandemic response, the response would have been materially different – and this shift in perspective is a huge achievement."

    Toby Green, King's College London, UK

    "This is an important contribution to issues which are being swept under the carpet – an impressive demolition of the social and moral case for lockdowns and a reminder of their devastating collateral consequences."

    Lord Jonathan Sumption, former judge of the Supreme Court of the UK

    "Social scientists were not just ignored during the COVID-19 pandemic but typically silent or even supportive of measures that inflicted enormous harm. This important volume starts to correct this tragedy, ranging widely across disciplines and societies to explore questions of scientism, moralism, freedom, harm, and more. Essential reading for anyone longing for critical perspectives on the disasters that unfolded after March 2020."

    Lee Jones, Professor of Political Economy and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London, UK

    "A thought-provoking set of essays which go well beyond standard criticisms of the pandemic response, investigating the deeper harms and questioning our understanding of concepts such as health and immunity, as well as being one of the rare texts to document the effects of pandemic policies on the Global South."

    Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK