The Sociology of COVID-19 Reading Group

During this time of global crisis, we have decided to turn our attention to COVID-19, focussing specifically on the sociological responses/implications of the epidemic. Below are the readings we  focus on each week. We aim to provide a space where diverse viewpoints are heard, and carry equal weight. We try to keep debate grounded in the material provided and usually chose the following  readings according to the direction of discussion.

If would like to join please contact Ginny Russell. A longer reading list on the topic of coronavirus is also being compiled by various academics and people in the sector. The full list is available here:


Week 1:
Ferguson et al. (2020) Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID- 19 mortality and healthcare demand. Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team. BBC News article criticising Ferguson paper above on modelling:
Sadati A K, B Lankarani M H, Bagheri Lankarani K. (2020) Risk Society, Global Vulnerability and Fragile Resilience; Sociological View on the Coronavirus Outbreak, Shiraz E-Med J.

Week 2:
Social Contagion: Microbiological Class War in China. Chuăng
Hanage, W. (2020) I’m an epidemiologist. When I heard about Britain’s ‘herd immunity’ coronavirus plan, I thought it was satire. Guardian 15th March 2020

Week 3:
Hannah, M. et al. (2020) Thinking Corona measures with Foucault.
Judith Butler. (2020) Capitalism has its limits. Verso [online blog], 30 March.

Week 4:
Johnstone, L. (2020) Why it’s healthy to be afraid in a crisis. Guardian 25th March 2020.
In response to: Daley, P. (2020) We face a pandemic of mental health disorders. Those who do it hardest need our support. Guardian 24th March.

Week 5:
Racism is the root cause of ethnic inequities during covid-19. Discover Society, 17th April 2020.
Taylor, K. (2020) The Black Plague. The New Yorker, 16th April 2020.

Week 6:
Caduff, C. (2020) What Went Wrong: Corona and the world after the full stop.

Week 7:
Nik Brown’s recent book Immunitary Life – please get in touch with Courtney if you would like access to this reading.

Week 8: 
Greenhalgh et al (2020) Face masks for the public during the COVID-19 crisis.
Friedman (2020) Face masks are in: What the US can learn from East Asia about face masksThe Atlantic.

Week 9: 
Independent SAGE Report 2. Should schools reopen? Interim findings and concerns.
Leonard (2016) The sociology of children, childhood and generation.

Week 10: 
Jerreat (2020) ‘Coronavirus – the new scapegoat for media censorship, rights groups say
Williams (2020) ‘We often accuse the right of distorting science. But the left changed the coronavirus narrative overnight.’ 

Week 11:
Callard (2020) Very, very mild: Covid-19 symptoms and illness classification.
Greco (2012) The classification and nomenclature of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’: Conflict, performativity and critique

For those particularly interested in this topic, there are some optional extras:

Week 12: 
Mel Salm (2020) Anthropocene Diseased: A Provocation
Naomi Klein (2020) ‘We must not return to the pre-Covid status quo, only worse‘ The Guardian.

Week 13: 
Gruber, J. et al. (2020) Mental Health and Clinical Psychological Science in the Time of COVID-19: Challenges, Opportunities, and a Call to Action. American Psychologist.
Rose, N. (2020) The social underpinnings of mental distress in the time of COVID-19 – time for urgent actionWellcome Open Research.

Week 14: 
This weeks discussion will be around different scientific responses to the covid-19 pandemic. In particular, we will be thinking about the following:

Week 15: 

Week 16:
The following readings are on celebrity culture and covid.

Week 17:
Hannah Arendt on social isolation/totalitarianism – Where loneliness can lead
‘Corona? 5G? or both?’: the dynamics of COVID-19/5G conspiracy theories on Facebook by Axel Bruns, Stephen Harrington, Edward Hurcombe

Week 18: 
Kata A (2010) A postmodern Pandora’s box: anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet. Vaccine. 28(7):1709–16.
Freeman D (2020) Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK: The Oxford Coronavirus explanations, attitudes, and narratives survey (oceans) II. Cambridge University Press.

Week 19:
The following readings are about long Covid.

Additional resources about long Covid:

Week 20: 
The following readings are about the evolving use of language to describe COVID-19 over the last year, and the exacerbation of disadvantages (through the lens of gender).

Week 21: 
This week’s theme are countries’ differing approaches and messaging on COVID responses.

Additional readings/resources: