Corona & Society: Reflecting on the Crisis
With the blog-series “Corona & Society”, Das Progressive Zentrum joins the debate on what society and politics can learn from the crisis, both politically and conceptually.
In this time of upheaval, we want to detect and record tendencies early on so that necessary processes of change can be initiated in good time. In doing so, we understand crises as historical caesuras that open windows of opportunity for shaping social conditions. What matters to us is that the virus’ course of events currently only gives preliminary and cautious diagnoses and prognoses. It is more about gathering ideas and observation – not about any final conclusions.
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic caught Poland in a politically loaded moment. Maria Skóra, Head of Programme International Dialogue at Das Progressive Zentrum, has analysed the societal and political consequences of the sudden pandemic in Poland. In “A very political virus”, she writes that “the sudden emergence of the coronavirus shook the country, exposing the vulnerability of its leadership”. She predicts a stormy 2021 and second-year of the pandemic for the Polish society.
Responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, massive mobility restrictions were imposed in the Schengen area. Daniel Schade, Visiting Fellow at DPZ, analyses the unilateral steps taken by Schengen states to reopen borders to third countries. In his article “Ever Closed Borders. The fate of Schengen during the Corona crisis” Daniel. Schade summarises that in order to avoid any serious damage to the functioning of the Schengen area, members need to stick to common rules and act in together, rather than in a single-handed fashion.
While Covid-19 spells bad news for most, the pandemic is set to cause particular hardship among blue-collar workers in industrialised economies as automation might take another leap forward. Bob Hancké, Associate Professor in Political Economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science and one of his PhD candidates, Toon van Overbeke, delineate automation developments in the course of economic crises in their article “The future of work and robots after Covid-19”. They conclude that much needed political and economic imperatives have to ensure this transition to be inclusive and to not leave workers behind.
It has been said that after a pandemic, nothing would be the same. Indeed, in these past months, to put it bluntly, gender equality has become the critical socio-political question of our time. In “Gender equality and the pandemic” Ania Skrzypek, Director for Research and Training at the Foundations for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), and Laeticia Thissen, Policy Adviser on Gender Equality at the FEPS, assess the emancipation of women during the pandemic and that it took a virus for the words ‘women’ and ‘leadership’ to come together: While they address the surge of domestic violence, the appraisal is generally that the image of women emerging from the lockdown is not the one of a victim.
In “Covid-19: Reflections on Crisis” Charles S. Maier, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University, aims to find answers to the questions ‘What is a crisis?’ and ‘What do crises do?’. Beginning from its etymological roots in Greek, Maier describes the meaning and becoming of a “crisis”: “The catastrophe becomes catastrophic (and a crisis) because earlier choices as well as immediate responses have been made badly.” He draws the conclusion that “this crisis is the product of social choices we failed to make” and it can only be “resolved through significant self-transformation”.