Researching the Corona Crisis: The Social Science Discourse in Germany and India

Germany

The Corona crisis has generated a new kind of attention for (primarily natural) scientists in the public debate. Very quickly, social scientists in Germany joined this debate and made visible the complex and wide-reaching effects of what can be described as a multi-dimensional crisis: Beyond the immediate health threat, the pandemic has impacted all areas of social life, extending into the fields of the economy, labour markets and the valorisation of ‘essential workers’, education, care work, gender relations and mental health to name a few. One central finding that appears to hold across societies is that while the Corona crisis affects everyone, it does not affect everyone equally. Within a short period of time, a multitude of studies emerged, demonstrating how the ongoing crisis reinforces existing or creates new inequalities. Pointing to a handful of examples, it became clear that financial consequences of the Corona crisis particularly affect the most vulnerable, working from home places additional burdens on mothers, remote education reinforces the educational divide in Germany, and that the disease itself has differing effects across social groups (The German Data Forum provides an overview of Corona-related social science studies in Germany). Providing a common platform for these diverse findings, the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) hosts a podcast, which brings together leading social science research on the pandemic from all over the country.

Find out the magnitude of societal implications for social cohesion and polarisation due to the crisis in Germany here.

India

In India, studies on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic were hampered by problems arising from the long and extremely severe lockdown in 2020 and the devastating effects of the second wave in 2021, both of which strongly affected possibilities to gather empirical materials. At the same time, research relying on large sets of statistical materials has been affected by the very poor quality and reliability of the Indian states’ data collection. Still, Indian researchers have rapidly reacted to the challenges of the pandemic and produced a strong research output, considering the additional challenges when compared to Germany.  Initial research has focused on education and upward mobility, gender, the devastation of livelihoods and impacts on employment (see this podcast by the Centre for Policy Research, Delhi), in the wake of the 2020 lockdown’s severity especially on migratory labour, access to healthcare, and on the impact of the pandemic on economic growth.

Take a closer look into the healthcare system in India and the economic costs of the lockdown here.