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Media and Communication ; 10(2):204-213, 2022.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1893465


This conceptual article argues that class is a major factor in the social division and polarisation after the Covid-19 pandemic. Current discourse and communication analyses of phenomena such as compliance with measures and vaccine hesitancy seek explanations mainly in opposing ideological stances, ignoring existing structural inequalities and class relations and their effects on people’s decisions. I approach social cohesion in the Covid-19 pandemic through the theories of epidemic psychology, which sees language as fundamental in social conflicts during pandemics, and progressive neoliberalism, which critiques a post-industrial social class whose assumed moral superiority and talking down to working-class people is argued to be an explanation of many current social conflicts. I argue that these theories construct a valuable theoretical framework for explaining and analysing the social division and polarisation that has resulted from the pandemic. Reducing non-compliance with mitigating measures and vaccine hesitancy to an ideological issue implies that it can be countered by combatting misinformation and anti-vaccination thinking and shutting down particular discourses, which grossly simplifies the problem. The impact that class relations and inequality have on political and health issues, coupled with the characteristics of progressive neoliberalism, may partially explain the rise of populist and nativist movements. I conclude that if social cohesion is to be maintained through the ongoing climate emergency, understanding the impacts of progressive neoliberalism and the role of contempt in exclusionary discursive practices is of utmost importance.

Humanities & Social Sciences Communications ; 8(1), 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1493325


This article critically examines the discourse around the Covid-19 pandemic to investigate the widespread polarisation evident in social media debates. The model of epidemic psychology holds that initial adverse reactions to a new disease spread through linguistic interaction. The main argument is that the mediation of the pandemic through social media has fomented the effects of epidemic psychology in the reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic by providing continued access to commentary and linguistic interaction. This social interaction in the absence of any knowledge on the new disease can be seen as a discourse of knowledge production, conducted largely on social media. This view, coupled with a critical approach to the power relations inherent in all processes of knowledge production, provides an approach to understanding the dynamics of polarisation, which is, arguably, issue-related and not along common ideological lines of left and right. The paper critiques two discursive structures of exclusion, the terms science and conspiracy theory, which have characterised the knowledge production discourse of the Covid-19 pandemic on social media. As strategies of dialogic contraction, they are based on a hegemonic view of knowledge production and on the simplistic assumption of an emancipated position outside ideology. Such an approach, though well-intentioned, may ultimately undermine social movements of knowledge production and thus threaten the very values it aims to protect. Instead, the paper proposes a Foucauldian approach that problematises truth claims and scientificity as always ideological and that is aware of power as inherent to all knowledge production.