Human Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Social Policy

A topical collection in Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This collection belongs to the section "Social Policy and Welfare".

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Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Programme of Social Work and Social Administration, Beijing Normal University & Hong Kong Baptist University United International College, Zhuhai, China
Interests: social policy (including comparative social policy, health policy, social development policy, anti-poverty policy, active aging policies, social security reform, future of social policy, etc.)

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Programme of Social Work and Social Administration, Beijing Normal University & Hong Kong Baptist University United International College, Zhuhai, China
Interests: emergency and disaster risk management and social psychological services healthcare policy, financing and healthcare social work; social legislations and social care; health and social welfare informatics

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Many agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and some of these changes will never be reverted. In Kuhnian terms (Kuhn, 1970), science will never be the same as before the pandemic, and nor will society. It was not only human interactions, their overall communications, and other social interactions which changed as we shifted to follow “the new normal” and the contexts which have been created as a result; so too did governance, social policy, and the sciences that study and influence them.  

However, COVID-19 is not only cause of these changes; it has also played a strong catalyst role to other change-leading factors. There are a series of strong knock-on effects becoming visible everywhere, for all people, for all aspects of their well-being, freedom, and health. A great deal of newly heightened and newly spread poverty and ill health (and mental health problems) are being indirectly caused. Across the globe, there are now new poverty-aggravating surging inflations  and new limitations on doing one’s work and one’s professional and daily business. Altogether, the poor and the vulnerable groups are relentlessly exposed to a myriad of cumulative negative changes. This is becoming clear now, and these conundrums are being slowly brought to public and scientific attention.

This Special Issue of the internationally pioneering journal Social Sciences aims to collect quality articles on different difficult situations which all people in the global community, and in particular those vulnerable groups, have endured. All kinds of qualitative and quantitative studies, from all over the world, are welcome. We hope that these studies will reveal how people, governments, and scientists reacted to such life challenges, and how their hardships were eventually faced.

In terms of topic areas, contributors can consider focusing on, for example, poverty outcomes, health outcomes, and new poverty reduction efforts and health care services concerned. Studies on other areas, such as mental health problems and schooling problems, in particular, are also welcome. In addition, e-learning and the online provision of social services and medical services (e.g., consultations) are also highly relevant. Computer-based counseling and digital social work are new areas to be explored and discussed. These emerging social services which cut across traditional social policy areas need to be investigated: how they can be better financed, implemented, coordinated, and evaluated deserves serious discussion in the light of political and social governance.

For universal (general) recommendations to be effective, it is advised to bear in mind that countries vary in terms of economic development. Contributors are encouraged to discuss local issues, as well as global ones. Indigenous measures that best fit the specific social, cultural, and developmental characteristics of a country or a region would be greatly valuable. Additionally, globally applicable policies and services, from a general point of view, as well as theoretical and philosophical works are surely sought after to the highest degree.

Last but not least, it is hoped that this Special Issue will provide insights on social policy and social services that will improve societal well-being and resilience, in the long run—for society to be able to return to a better state, a new normal after this new normal. 

Prof. Dr. Christian Aspalter
Prof. Johnston Wong
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • covid-19 Pandemic
  • governance and social policy
  • health policy
  • education policy
  • poverty and povertization
  • computer-based counseling and digital social work
  • societal well-being and resilience
  • employment policy
  • anti-poverty policy

Published Papers (6 papers)

2024

Jump to: 2023, 2022

18 pages, 1587 KiB  
Article
The Mediating Effect of Psychological Resilience between Individual Social Capital and Mental Health in the Post-Pandemic Era: A Cross-Sectional Survey over 300 Family Caregivers of Kindergarten Children in Mainland China
by Juxiong Feng, Pengpeng Cai, Xin Guan, Xuhong Li, Langjie He, Kwok-kin Fung and Zheyuan Mai
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(2), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13020122 - 19 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1203
Abstract
In the context of the impact of the post-COVID-19 pandemic on families, this study explores the impact of individual social capital and psychological resilience on the mental health of family caregivers of kindergarten children in mainland China. This study included a sample of [...] Read more.
In the context of the impact of the post-COVID-19 pandemic on families, this study explores the impact of individual social capital and psychological resilience on the mental health of family caregivers of kindergarten children in mainland China. This study included a sample of 331 family caregivers from Zhaoqing City, Guangdong Province, and the researchers applied the Personal Social Capital Scale (PSCS-16), Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC-10), and Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) to assess social capital, psychological resilience, and mental health. Findings indicate a positive relationship between bridging social capital and mental health, while psychological resilience is negatively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. Psychological resilience is identified as a mediator between social capital and mental health outcomes in this study. These insights highlight the importance of enhancing social capital and psychological resilience to improve family caregivers’ mental health and the need for targeted interventions. Full article
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2023

Jump to: 2024, 2022

15 pages, 1111 KiB  
Article
The Role of Risk Communication in Shaping Health-Protective Behavior Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic in Thailand
by Suphunnika Termmee and Bing Wang
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(10), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12100551 - 01 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1071
Abstract
The study aimed to investigate the influence of social media, cultural, and demographic factors on individuals’ perceptions of risk and their responses to risk communication. This study targeted the population living in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, for the collection of data [...] Read more.
The study aimed to investigate the influence of social media, cultural, and demographic factors on individuals’ perceptions of risk and their responses to risk communication. This study targeted the population living in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, for the collection of data because Bangkok recorded the highest cumulative COVID-19 cases in the country during the pandemic. The questionnaire method included 625 respondents and was administered from August 2022 to October 2022. The questionnaire’s validation process involved conducting quantitative analysis, specifically utilizing confirmatory factor analysis within the IBM SPSS statistics 25 software. The analysis showed that demographic factors such as gender, occupation, education, and income significantly influenced risk interpretation. In terms of gender, males demonstrated a higher inclination towards evaluating data and information compared to females. Employed individuals also displayed a greater tendency for data evaluation than those who were not employed. Furthermore, individuals with lower education levels and income were more inclined towards studying risk-related information. Age and marital status did not exhibit a significant impact on risk interpretation. It was observed that interaction with social media can influence risk interpretation, potentially reducing individuals’ ability to interpret descriptive data. Furthermore, political beliefs were found to negatively impact risk interpretation due to the potential biases and preconceived notions that can shape how individuals perceive and evaluate information. Social, political, and cultural factors collectively played a role in shaping individuals’ perceptions and behaviors related to risk and health. Therefore, reevaluating these factors through quantitative research can offer valuable insights for formulating more effective recommendations to enhance risk communication policies and prepare strategies for future public health emergencies. Full article
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2022

Jump to: 2024, 2023

35 pages, 5263 KiB  
Article
Shielding without a Shield—Older People under COVID-19: A Comparison of Four Cities
by Johnston H. C. Wong and Ghee W. Ho
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(11), 498; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11110498 - 28 Oct 2022
Viewed by 1590
Abstract
Older people were globally the most vulnerable during the pandemic. This paper examines the mortality and psychological crisis of older people during the pandemic in four cities, namely Wuhan, Milan, London, and Hong Kong, in order to explain their high death rates. The [...] Read more.
Older people were globally the most vulnerable during the pandemic. This paper examines the mortality and psychological crisis of older people during the pandemic in four cities, namely Wuhan, Milan, London, and Hong Kong, in order to explain their high death rates. The sample cities were purposefully selected to cover different degrees of social connectedness and outbreak periods. Quantitative data were employed to account for death and suicide data. Qualitative data analyses in government reports, public press releases, NGO announcements, and journal articles were used to study government responses and disruptions of essential healthcare services. Published scientific studies provided important information on the psychological stress and resilience of older people. Findings based on a welfare regime perspective showed that society and governments have not learned from the experiences of other countries, which resulted in high numbers of preventable deaths. Older people have successfully coped with living difficulties while serious psychological disturbances and suicidal ideations were absent at least for the period up to 2022. Older care home residents, unfortunately, were not protected with proper shielding and available vaccinations. Public inefficiency and negligence contributed to a disproportionately high rate of mortality in nursing homes. Full article
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22 pages, 3625 KiB  
Article
Fostering Policy Change in Anti-Poverty Schemes in Italy: Still a Long Way to Go
by Franca Maino and Celestina Valeria De Tommaso
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(8), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11080327 - 25 Jul 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2762
Abstract
This article explores the poverty phenomenon and anti-poverty policies in Italy, before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to contribute to the mainstream literature on policy change, looking at how the convergence of multiple streams (problem, policy, and political) contributed to achieving [...] Read more.
This article explores the poverty phenomenon and anti-poverty policies in Italy, before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to contribute to the mainstream literature on policy change, looking at how the convergence of multiple streams (problem, policy, and political) contributed to achieving the adoption of the Italian Minimum Income scheme, the Citizenship Income. Despite increasing political and public awareness of poverty, the 2022 Budget Law failed to achieve a structural reform—considering amendments proposed by the Ministry of Social Policy’s Commission and the Italian Anti-Poverty Network—to improve both the equity and efficiency of the anti-poverty measure. Strong path dependency in the conceptualization and implementation of the anti-poverty tool is still evident; policy change thus has a long way to go. Full article
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14 pages, 300 KiB  
Article
Making the Invisible Visible: The Pandemic and Migrant Care Work in Long-Term Care
by Kai Leichsenring, Selma Kadi and Cassandra Simmons
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(8), 326; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11080326 - 25 Jul 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1819
Abstract
Live-in care, provided by mainly female migrants, has developed as a do-it-yourself welfare mechanism—hardly regulated, with undefined working times, singular labour relations and widely untraceable cash flows. Migrant carers are isolated, working in a ‘grey’ area, torn between the family in which they [...] Read more.
Live-in care, provided by mainly female migrants, has developed as a do-it-yourself welfare mechanism—hardly regulated, with undefined working times, singular labour relations and widely untraceable cash flows. Migrant carers are isolated, working in a ‘grey’ area, torn between the family in which they are working and the individual person in need of care, and very often they are also dependent on brokering agencies. The aim of this contribution is therefore to describe and analyse how the pandemic has made hidden inequalities more visible in connection with the specificities of live-in migrant care in Austria, Italy and Spain. Findings are based on a brief scoping review, including national media coverage. Results are described in terms of national caveats and strategies to respond to challenges triggered by the pandemic. Mitigating short-term strategies were implemented under pressure and at short notice, mainly influenced by the national framework conditions of live-in migrants in the respective countries. In spite of upcoming political debates regarding the regularisation of live-in care, including issues of wages and working conditions, the visibility of migrant live-in care remains tightly connected to the further development of care regimes and the acknowledgement of unpaid work as a precondition for gender equality and equal opportunities in a European and subsequently in a global dimension. Full article
17 pages, 1126 KiB  
Article
Prostitution and Deservingness in Times of Pandemic: State (Non) Protection of Sex Workers in Spain
by Estefanía Acién González and Ángeles Arjona Garrido
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(5), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11050199 - 01 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2724
Abstract
During the COVID-19 health crisis, the Spanish Government launched a series of urgent measures to protect the population from its economic effects. At first, it seemed that sex workers would have access to this protection, given that, technically, their access to the star [...] Read more.
During the COVID-19 health crisis, the Spanish Government launched a series of urgent measures to protect the population from its economic effects. At first, it seemed that sex workers would have access to this protection, given that, technically, their access to the star measure, the IMV (anagram in Spanish for Ingreso Mínimo Vital) (minimum living income), was explicitly expressed. However, in the end, this group was excluded as the final text specified that only those deemed to be victims of gender violence, sexual exploitation, or trafficking could access said measure. We propose to study the usefulness of the concept of deservingness of social benefits to explain this lack of protection in a framework that takes into account political power contexts, the empirical observations of sex workers on their level of access to the IMV, and an exploration of its association with the theoretical construct of deservingness. Through a revision of secondary sources, interviews with key informants, and applying discourse analysis, we found these connections and the evident exclusion of sex workers from the social benefit. Likewise, we found that social stigma and moral and ideological judgments are behind this undeservingness and confirm a process of “NGOization” of care for this group that implies the depoliticization and professionalization of civil society entities such as NGOs. Full article
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