COVID-19: Are We Facing a ‘Global Social Crisis’? (Briefing Note n°3)

Baché, J.
Date published
20 May 2020
Research, reports and studies
COVID-19, Epidemics & pandemics, Health, Psychosocial support, Good health and well-being (SDG), Urban
Groupe URD

This Briefing Note is the COVID Observatory’s third output. It outlines our understanding of the current crisis and its specific implications in terms of social cohesion.

There is no longer any doubt that the shock wave caused by the epidemic will not be limited to the health sector, and that the crisis cannot be solely interpreted in terms of public health: it is a systemic and global crisis with roots and consequences in all sectors of society, whether economic, political, financial, etc. In addition to highlighting the extreme vulnerability of health systems, it has revealed the fragility of societies in general, as well as the fact that they are interconnected and interdependent. It has revealed the nature of social relations and accentuated inequalities.

All around the world, the fact that several billion people have been living in lockdown conditions is already sowing the seeds of a social crisis that could revive or trigger large-scale popular unrest, particularly in countries where the majority of the population live from hand to mouth. Though, at first sight, it might seem that the management of the pandemic has pushed protest movements out of the picture, it could also help to reshape social movements in general. In many places, new forms of solidarity are emerging, while at the same time, whether online or on the ground, pockets of ‘social resistance’ are preparing the protest movements of tomorrow. From the red rags of Colombia to the Hirak movement in Algeria, civil society movements are adapting and blooming, sometimes fueled by anger, and others by solidarity; these may be signs of profound upheaval to come.

Baché, J.