Stjernswärd S, Glasdam S
Soc Sci Humanit Open 4 (1) 100211 [2021-09-28; online 2021-09-28]
COVID-19 represents a risk to people's life and societies in their current shapes and functions, with institutionalised responses redefining everyday life. Crises in society can induce fear and tensions that can unite and divide people, inducing acts of solidarity and polarisation. The study explored articulations of solidarity and polarisation in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and related risks. A Foucault-inspired thematic analysis was pursued on qualitative data from an international survey about COVID-19 and social media. The analysis resulted in four themes illustrating articulations of solidarity and polarisation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis showed solidarity and polarisation as each other's premise and contradiction. Socialisation into a 'new normal' was characterised by the balance between solidarity and polarisation as well as aspirations to enhance future solidarity. The study illustrated that social media functioned as social technology for control and manipulation towards social normalisation. However, it was also used to voice attempts to rectify (or overthrow) the dominant medico-political discourse and norms with own preferences, opinions and a functioning daily life. In short, the articulations and social media uses could be interpreted as expressions of power and counter-power.