Soziologische Perspektiven auf die Corona-Krise –

Transkript: Deborah Lupton: The COVID-19 Crisis in Australia: Local and Global Contexts

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Florian Binder
End with that. Welcome to the latest episode of our podcast. Sociological perspectives on the corona crisis.
My name is Florian Binda.
I'm student assistant at the Vets at B Berlin Social Science Center and co-organizer of this digital coloquium.
On November 10 2021. Deborah Lapton gave election on the topic the COVID-19 crisis in Australia. Local and global contexts.
In her presentation then discusses how Australians experience the COVID-19 crisis from its first reporting to the present.
With the largest states of New South Wales and Victoria together with the Australian capital territory.
A slowly emerging from extended strict lockdowns due to the delta variant.
She also introduces her new book COVID societies theorising the coronavirus crisis which will.
Be published in April 2022. And provides a global perspective on the pandemic.
Is a sharp professor in the center for social research and health and the social policy research center and leader of the vitalities lab at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
And now, without any further ado, please enjoy the Bora Lapton's lecture.
Deborah Lupton
I've got a short time to talk about COVID crisis in Australia. So I'm in my best to get through a fair amount of information. So that's why I was asked to talk about today.
So I have actually worked on three books on.
COVID the kind of crisis internationally COVID societies bought that you see there on the left with the subtitle theorizing the coronavirus crisis.
I'll talk a bit more about it in a minute and talk a bit more about the content about that as the subtitle suggests is.
Social theory book.
Then there's an edited book with my colleague in Australia Karen Willis called COVID-19 crisis social perspectives and that does have contributions from different countries quite a few family Europe.
For example it actually came that came back and came out in April this year.
And it came out of a special section of the general health sociology review that I also edited and when I put out the call for papers,
In April last year and very early days of the COVID crisis received many many
Very good abstract small around the world. We could only choose seven to go in the special section of health sociology review.
That was published I think around August September last year but then we had many other others that we could select to go into this book so that's what that's how that book that book ended up coming into being,
And then with my postoperial team at the vitalities lab at the University of New South Wales please southern Marianne Clark and,
I led the book to face mask and COVID times associated material and analysis and again that's got a very international perspective and
We talk about a whole range of issues to do with how we understand the face mask which of course has become a very
Symbolic as well as a very I guess Monday simple object to protect against COVID infection
And we look at the politics around face masks which of course in many countries there's been protests.
Against when face masks,
We look at the environmental impact disposable face mask and how they're choking up the environment and people using them in throwing them away carelessly,
We look at the whole sort of entrepreneurial realizm around making face masks reusable face masks and the sort of commodity culture around face masks that is a face mask for every occasion
Whether it be christenings or bars or Halloween or
Christmas or funerals or weddings you can find a face mask that's customized for any,
Any occasion these days so there's a whole sort of commercial culture community culture around face masks as well so it's quite an interesting phenomenon that's really erupted particularly in
In the global north since the event of COVID but I'm not going to talk about those things today because I'm gonna focus.
On Australia.
But just to say that with this book the covid's in the coronavirus crisis it's it'll be too loud it's apparently impressed it'll be due out in March next year.
And what I do in this book is I look at the histories and the narratives of contagion so I can text the coronavirus pandemic.
Within other pandemics starting with the the playground breaks in European times and social cultural.
A perspectives and approaches and ways of dealing with the spread of infectious disease that have happened ever since those many of the times
Then I'll take a political economy perspective and look at the background political dimensions of COVID globally I then take a zucchini and perspective and look at via politics and governmentality and also cover the work
People like Roberto Esposito and,
Georgia again I command who had a fairly controversial perspective from a biological perspective on
COVID but also the necrob politics of Nabe. I I discussed in this in this chapter. I then move on to
The well known German sociology and we'll cat how Beck's work on society can be applied.
You understanding the macro political dimensions of the COVID crisis that I also draw on Mary Douglas's work the British and the college Mary Douglas's way to look at the symbolic,
And cultural dimensions of risk,
And how her work can be applied there. I have a chapter on gender and queer theory and how they can be applied to analyze the code crisis and then I bring in socio material,
In Moldingham and Siri took the more than human worlds of the COVID crisis globally and then I stepped short reflections.
So when I'm analyzing what happened in Australia.
From a political and experiential perspective I'm also.
Constantly thinking of of how to kind of contextualize what's happening in Australia and the global context as well because of course it is a global phenomenon.
I just to move on to what's happened in Australia so this is AA graph that I took from Bell Walden,
Data which is an international website that has many many interesting data points not just on on the COVID crisis but on,
Other dimensions of of everyday life. They do have a lot of statistics on COVID so you can easily look at these kinds of data,
And so I just really went on to that website today just to see what the latest data was so that,
Graph shows you that from March the first 2022 November the eighth was the most recent.
Period of the the day to where shown today that in Australia daily new confirmed COVID cases per 1 million people we had a small
Peak in March which is when we entered our first national lockdown the lockdown went very effectively then we had another peak in August which was
Actually mostly in just one state of Australia Victoria and in the capital city which is the second largest city in Australia Melbourne
Where there was an extended lockdown in our winter.
In 2020 then we had a long period where there were very few cases in Australia we were pretty much at the point of the eliminating COVID full.
For when people
Other countries and there was no winter quarantine but unfortunately there were few sort of escapes of the virus and so there was the odd case that went into the community during that long period but then the delta,
Variant reached Australia and we had a massive peep as you can see there that we're really only just getting over.
And it did affect again Melbourne but it also affected our largest city Sydney and both cities went into extended lockdowns again.
Earlier this year and I only just coming out of those lockdowns now.
So I'm just comparative progressively taken from the the same data so just to show how the Australian experience compares with with similar high income,
Countries, western countries. So, United Kingdom.
Well up there in terms of daily new confirmed COVID cases per 1 million people.
And I I just wanted to look at the last 2 months actually just took just to have a bit of look at how the dealer had infected these different countries.
Germany is the course of had a bit of AA peak lately with your cases United States has gone from quite a high place to,
To gradually going down France is doing well below the other countries in Sweden and Canada and where in Australia we're just there.
With very low cases per 1 million people comparative to these other high income countries and New Zealand is there below us too because I know there's been a lot of international interest in both Australia and New Zealand course,
Quite similar in terms of our geographical region but we're also island nations.
Cuz it's just much bigger than New Zealand and has a much bigger population but we both countries introduced fairly vigil lockdowns and closing of international waters early on in the pandemic and therefore,
Manage to pursue a fairly effective elimination strategy until the doctor there it came along earlier this year.
So vaccination has been a huge issue in Australia. Over the last few months.
We had a problem where our government basically fumbled, getting enough doses in. We had controversies over astrozenica which we had a lot of supply of because.
It is made in Australia but there was there were controversies over missed associated with.
Taking yesterday's car very rare risk but it got a lot of media attention and we didn't have enough supplies of Fisa so for a long time Australia's down there very long this grass,
In July the 4 months ago but since then we have made an amazing recovery and really got really high numbers vaccinated so we now.
The same group of countries we're now up there towards the top with 67%.
Having heads both doses of the vaccines are available to us so we've really made a huge
Keep striving in terms of population being vaccinated. Over just 4 months.
So I've had identified six phases in Australia's COVID-19 response so the first phase is the notion that was a distant threat we didn't really feel much of risk,
In January and February 2020 because we saw this something that was affecting mostly China and then Europe but,
No something that was really coming within our borders but then it finally did before too long so we entered phase two which was the national lockdown from May 2020 so in March 2020 to May
2020 it lasted for about 10 weeks.
That's when we had our first train cases and they were very rigid restrictions and they were in not any national border closures but.
Border closures between our different states and territories in Australia so we couldn't go from one area of Australia to another,
During that time then we we ended the COVID oh phase from June 2020 to January 2021.
Quite a long phase where we did manage to pretty much eliminate over over over several weeks in fact there'll be periods of time when then we know.
Active COVID cases at all anywhere in Australia. But that did include the prolonged Victorian lockdown to deal with their second wave.
Then we had the vaccine dilemmas and I've just referred to which basically went from February this year to May this year where we turn to the idea that vaccines were the way out
But we we didn't have any foot supplies so whether we wanted to or not we could really go and get and that's vaccination campaign happening
Then what I call the delta response where we did have the the variant into Australia and it did very quickly because it's my infectious takeover,
First in Sydney then at then in Melbourne mostly and also in Canberra our national capital so
Those three sittings did go through extended lockdowns very recently from June to September 2021 now we've entered the period.
That I call living with COVID which is the way the government talks about it from October. To the present time.
Where we've virtually used some restrictions in those three cities and in the states that both cities are in New South Wales this territory and Victoria,
Basically together those those states and cities that the largest cities sending Melbourne and then the largest states in terms of population so there was a significant
A portion probably at least half this train population that we're in lockdown for for a few months actually very very street lockdown,
But we're now focusing now that we've got very high levels of vaccinations we're focusing on offering third third doses and opening up live to everyone again and we've just opened up our international water for the first time really since.
March 2020. As many other countries have found it's.
Being the people from a low socioeconomic status who have been most affected.
By COVID cases and particularly deaths just because there is very strong interactions between social economic disadvantage and being someone who's exposed to COVID,
Infection because you're an essential.
Jobs and you can't shoulder at home. But also preexisting health conditions are higher in being people who have low socioeconomic status. They sorts of dimensions all come together but to mean that they've been far more affected.
Then the more privileged people in Island society which is very common story around the world.
And just to you know don't have too much time but just to finish off I just have a few examples of popular culture from Australia that kinds of COVID campaigns that were running Australia.
Campaigns urgent people to get vaccine or the previous one were about pretty much being very careful about hymn and.
Covering your face and nose and washing hands and so on but then we moved on to,
Crove vaccination campaigns I've been taking photographs in where I'm living so that it's a document visually.
What it's like living through the COVID pandemic in my own context so I've got a few there's that my gym there in the left we had squares on the floor marked out so that we
Couldn't get too close to people there's very specials that we were urged to to buy to protect ourselves our COVID safe app which was,
They're ineffective. All the kinds of signs that were around and they practices people had to engage in.
When they were checking in using their phones when they were going to places like supermarkets wearing masks there.
Testing, clinics, the way that face masks have been discarded in natural settings, the way that there were no, that's a flight center. They were no flights being.
Being advertised there and I thought I saw that I sort of thought of that to show that no one was travelling anywhere.
And he's just some funny kind of popular cultural representations of the state premiers for the system in state where we have a central government in also state governments.
It's state premiers became quite well known giving regular press conferences and.
Being put on these kinds of things like t-shirts and mugs. It became very well known.
And finally this is a Christmas ornament that pretty much encapsulates the Australian experience for 2021 that's available for sale I thought I'd put that there because it just puts everything together in terms of what it was like to be
Living through the crisis in Australia. Thank you.
Florian Binder
So, thank you very much. I wanna just jump right into the questions. So, just first maybe in in general
What would you say why did Australia go this completely different way than like other most countries in Europe with completely shutting of everything and also the borders for this very long time.
Deborah Lupton
Well one a geography is one because we are a even though we're a lot very large continent we have you know where an island so we were able to do that it's very it's very easy to shut our borders we just stopped,
People coming in on planes so one reason is it's very easy for us to do that web cost you share borders with many other countries,
And it's much harder to prevent people coming in and out across borders.
Another reason is our Australian government which is a conservative government is actually traditionally being quiet conservative about saying there's a refugees so there's always for quite a long time with had this policy.
About shutting ball out.
Unwanted people so kind of went with that esos as well and also Australians tend to be in terms of public health quite sort of obedient we're not like the Americans even though we share that sort of.
Oh original for those of us who are part of the settler culture we say share that sort of British tradition of you know having
British settlers here but we're much less sort of individualistic in our approach to life and tend to be more community minded in many ways so I get we're quite we essence to government public health policies.
Florian Binder
And when we're already speaking off of this bakery kind of Australian identity what what was also coming up was I'm so how would you say have the
Regional and or statewide differences in in COVID measures and especially between like states like and establish you and western Australia and the border the internal border closed things affected the feelings of like a
Greater Australian community like is there any
Indication that this long border closures the regional ones have led to more like regional and state identities.
Deborah Lupton
Oh, definitely, yes, it's been a major, major part of the COVID experience for Australians so that yes, there has been not only,
Between states and territories but,
Within states and territories even between the parts of those states the cities versus regional areas for example country towns has been really different experiences even within the one state.
And there's been very different policies because we did have that state government versus federal government government of Australia so that the state government's the premiers of both states had a lot of control over public health measures,
And the in fact still have states in Australia that have refused to open their borders to
Other people from other states of Australia so they're still remain closed and they have remain closed for
Many many months so that people from one part of Australia can't go to that part of Australia. So it doesn't cause me that families have been sent around separated even within Australia for many many months. In some cases.
We had snap border closures where basically you couldn't plan any travel because the government of that's over to a different state because the government.
Government of that state might suddenly announce within hours that there was an outbreak and they fall.
Hey, everyone. Head to stay in that state. They're not come back. So, it's been actually, yes, very, very interesting politically. I have done with some research talking to a strange about their experiences of COVID so I do know.
That a lot of Australians around.
The country that they're a large country that we have have actually liked the fact that the state premiers have closed the borders it's made them feel safe,
It's made them feel protected. Which is interesting. Even though there haven't been able to see some men's of their family say or travel for work.
Into different states often but it had yes it more so than any time in the past,
Before the federation straight which was in 1900 has there been this very state based identity and state based kind of politics it's it's all been since the COVID crisis.
Florian Binder
And so if that's the the view inside and there's already already people feeling,
Safer if it's the regional borders are closed another question would then be how have,
These strict water regimes influence the attitudes of Australians towards other nations because you've already mentioned that in the beginning it was seen as probably
Everywhere in the world is this thing that is just affecting like Asia and and and Europe and so it has the view of the outside world been affected by
Hey border closures.
Deborah Lupton
Yes so the outside world is seen to offer a risk to Australians and in fact that's exactly how.
Well of course how it's first entered with three someone flying in actually from Wuhan that was the first cases where where directly from Wuhan we have many Chinese immigrants in Australia we so we have a very you know a very explorge expatriated Chinese community
In Australia. Particularly in the large city, Sydney, Melbourne. So they would have there was a lot of travel between.
China and and Australia in the early days of the pandemic and and that was how that's exactly where where the virus first came in and.
And and even though the international borders were closed in March 2020 there were people who could that saw that were people could get exemptions to come in into Australia,
But they had to quarantine for 14 days in very strict manage quarantine and even despite that very strict quarantine there were some leakages of the virus so,
Australian saw time and time again. It was the source of great anger actually makes me Australians that international visitors were to keep bringing in.
The bar is even though there were no community cases in Australia at all there'd be periods where there'd be none at all but then.
Than being updated he managed to infect someone during quarantine or something like that okay so yeah since they was again a very.
Very much the sense that the risk was coming from outside at all the time.
I've got some recent interviews with people very recent interviews with people in Australia who still feel very nervous about the borders being the international borders being open.
Because of COVID risk.
Florian Binder
But so would you say that this is going to be like a sustained influence that they because here in in Europe it's always that all Australia just like well coming nations where you go for like all the tourism stuff kangaroos and everything
But would you say that this this identity is not like really like by Australians that much anymore
Just creates this this we don't really need the outside to come here because it's such a great risk added to you.
Deborah Lupton
It has been quite a dominant perspective but I don't think it's going to continue because again because we have a very high have a lot of people who are born,
Overseas or have family members born overseas who have been desperate to go back to whatever country that's come from to see their family or to their family members visit them so that that must be born in mine where a very multicultural society,
And we have a lot of immigrants who live here from lots of different countries in the world. Including Europe. So.
That online means that you know you can't you can't necessarily talk about Australians as being a monocultural society who could stifling not. There has been concern.
Before we all got such high vaccination rate which which is making people feel far more protected now.
They was concerned before that but I think now that we have such high we've got some states in Australia that now have among the most highest note vaccination.
Vaccinated populations in the world now so.
After that is making people feel a bit differently and feeling a little bit more confident about people coming in and out of Australia.
Florian Binder
So I wanna ask another question that is about the the COVID policies in Australia and you're already mentioned this more obedience towards public health authorities because from what we have heard here it always felt like
The country or Australia and itself just turned into a really massive security state with measures like ep tracking with out a lot of data protection curfews in forest by the RME and and much stricter lockdowns then then we ever had in in Germany
Forms and so but it still seen and you've already mentioned that that Australians have accepted or even really supported these measures for a long time. So, Melbourne being in
Locked on for almost like a year and so what in Europe can you maybe accept this,
This public health authority obedience is the other reasons for this willingness to just issue most basic rights for such a long time.
Deborah Lupton
Well, yes, I mean, it is interesting to compare so the situation again with the US where there's been far more protests against.
Measures such as lockdowns and and mask wearing even vaccinations. There's been far more antivaxes in in US. So then there is an Australia. We have been incredibly open to getting back vaccination.
And we have a history of being very high with childhood vaccinations felt like it's like 95% of all.
Of children get all the childhood vaccinations
You know, when safety belts, seat belts were brought in, they're, you know, the Australians pretty much embrace that. So.
Gets it's kind of hard to kind of pinpoint where it comes from but
We are we are to we do tend to to accept these measures if they are seeing to be for the good of the public health for the most part and of course there's been pockets we had had some demonstrations we have had pockets of of you know frustration.
And they have often been from fond people,
Who have lost their jobs or lost their income but having said that our government has also provided quite would support for people financial support for people who've lost income so I think that also.
Has helped people feel more acquisite acquiescent towards lockdowns because they have been supported financially
If they lost work for example.
Florian Binder
From what we've heard they are like we're multiple instances when these street curfews quarantined lockdowns were implemented in especially
Economically deprived and and and minority communities. So how would you say has this affected the social coexistence of majority and minority populations as well as
Richer and poorer parts of society in Australia.
Deborah Lupton
They were certainly some examples in by Sydney and Melbourne for example where,
People from low socioeconomic status groups in particular immigrant groups, refugee, you know,
Groups we would have double disadvantage of low income and,
And and being safe from a refugee on minority ethnic group we're.
We're treated with quite a lot of high surveillance and policing and it was a it was a bit.
Confronting that that happened and there were certainly people who are opposed to that kind level of surveillance of those social groups.
And you know there was some political debate about that. It wasn't just kind of just accepted across the board.
And it was, yeah, there wasn't distinction of them between those groups. And unfortunately, it was the fact that those were the groups, people from those groups were the ones who had to go out and,
Do the sport do the caregiving,
Do the just infrastructure with race swings and other supplies essential supplies be the nursing staff
Be the checkout operators in supermarkets be the food deliverance of you know Uber eats or whatever.
So they had too had to leave their hoops and they were allowed to but the trouble is that you know they they were the ones who were contracting the virus because they were the ones being spaced because I had to leave the house to do their jobs so they weren't didn't have the privilege of.
Being able to start my work for public many at the step. So that yeah it it was it was certainly there was a lot of social inequality going on there and a fair amount of,
Not realizing those people had their little choice in terms of exposing themselves to risk having sent that that was recognized and there were measures put in place to deal with that in many case,
Hey sis I mean it wasn't certainly the government response certainly wasn't perfect but for example in parts of Sydney that were.
Lockdown very very dramatically and severely they were also the ones where vaccines were prioritised and so they've ended up being one of the highest most.
And fastest vaccinated groups in Sydney so that's a good thing but but yes there was some there was definitely some victim blaming going on.
And some overly severe restrictions.
Florian Binder
That was the lecture deborah up and gave us part of our digital.
On November 10 2021. We hope you were able to take away some new insights. If you're interested, please feel free to subscribe and share the.
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