Human Sociality in the Age of Covid-19

The current crisis provoked by Covid-19 has wider impacts not only on health but also on human sociality.

The project Human Sociality in the Age of Covid-19 aims at understanding both the foundations of embodied social interaction as revealed by the pandemic and the specific embodied conducts the pandemics has generated. In this sense the project addresses both fundamental theoretical issues and contingent issues contributing to a better understanding of the current uncertain historical moment. In this context, we want to spotlight how social, interpersonal, as well as formal relationships between persons coming and acting together in everyday life and work are changing.

It is urgent to understand the changes going on, at least for two reasons.

The first concerns our sociality, the ways we achieve it, and its importance for the organization of our everyday actions in accountable and intersubjective ways. Forms of getting together are fundamental to establish, recognize, re-negotiate, and stabilize relationships. For instance, existing studies on openings, greetings, body postures as well as distance/proximity in social interaction have demonstrated that the ordered way in which these phenomena are shaped is deeply consequential for the way people can communicate together, coordinate their actions, and engage in common projects. If ingrained routines of openings and greetings are altered, how do people begin an encounter? How do interactants’ engage in joint activities? How do they format their actions in an intelligible and legitimate way in a context where routine formats are not taken-for-granted anymore?  We are interested in the consequences of the changes we are currently witnessing.

The second reason concerns health risks, safety, and prevention. How are imperatives to keep physical distance, to avoid tactile contact, to pay attention to hands’ and body’s hygiene formulated and enforced? How are they understood, complied with, or resisted to? How do people respond to the new prescriptions and injunctions formulated by public authorities inviting to change their behavior? It is crucial to gain a better understanding of the ongoing changes and their consequences – which affect not only health, but also more generally social order and the way people organize everyday life.