The SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the associated COVID-19 pandemic, is perhaps the greatest threat to life, and lifestyles, the world has known in more than a century. The scholarship included here provides critical insights into the ethics and ideologies, inequalities, and changed social understandings that lie at the heart of this pandemic. This volume maps out the ways in which the pandemic has impacted (most often disproportionately) societies, the successes and failures of means used to combat the virus, and the considerations and future possibilities – both positive and negative – that lie ahead. While the pandemic has brought humanity together in some noteworthy ways, it has also laid bare many of the systemic inequalities that lie at the foundation of our global society. This volume is a significant step toward better understanding these impacts.

The work presented here represents a remarkable diversity and quality of impassioned scholarship and is a timely and critical advance in knowledge related to the pandemic. This volume and its companion, COVID-19: Volume II: Social Consequences and Cultural Adaptations, are the result of the collaboration of more than 50 of the leading social scientists from across five continents. The breadth and depth of the scholarship is matched only by the intellectual and global scope of the contributors themselves. The insights presented here have much to offer not just to an understanding of the ongoing world of COVID-19, but also to helping us (re-) build, and better shape, the world beyond.

chapter 1|8 pages


Global pandemic, societal responses, ideological solutions
ByJ. Michael Ryan

chapter 2|11 pages

The SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 pandemic

ByJ. Michael Ryan

part I|85 pages

Ethics and ideologies

chapter 3|6 pages

McDonaldization in the age of COVID-19

ByGeorge Ritzer

chapter 4|14 pages

Theodicies of the COVID-19 catastrophe

ByBryan S. Turner

chapter 5|11 pages

Necroethics in the time of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter

ByScott Schaffer

chapter 6|14 pages

Ecology, democracy, and COVID-19

Rereading and radicalizing Karl Polanyi
ByEren Duzgun

chapter 7|12 pages

Heterotopia in Melanesia

Reactions to COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea
ByDavid Troolin

part II|57 pages

Exacerbating inequalities

chapter 10|15 pages

Inequalities and COVID-19 1

BySerena Nanda

chapter 11|15 pages

Spotlighting hidden inequities

Post-secondary education in a pandemic
ByStacy L. Smith, Adam G. Sanford, Dinur Blum

chapter 12|12 pages

Business as usual

Poverty, education, and economic life amidst the pandemic
ByRyan Parsons

chapter 13|13 pages

Inflection points

The intersection of COVID-19, climate change, and systemic racism
ByJill Betz Bloom

part III|83 pages

Changing social understandings in response to crisis

chapter 14|17 pages

Blowing bubbles

COVID-19, New Zealand’s bubble metaphor, and the limits of households as sites of responsibility and care
BySusanna Trnka, Sharyn Graham Davies

chapter 15|13 pages

Making the invisible visible

Viral cloud moments in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic
ByJoseph A. Astorino, Anthony V. Nicola

chapter 16|12 pages

Treating loneliness in the aftermath of a pandemic

Threat or opportunity?
ByKelly Rhea MacArthur

chapter 17|12 pages

Managing trauma exposure and developing resilience in the midst of COVID-19

ByJohanna Soet Buzolits, Ann Abbey, Kate Kittredge, Ann E. C. Smith

chapter 18|13 pages

The costs of care

A content analysis of female nurses’ media visibility and voices in the United States, China, and India during the COVID-19 pandemic
ByMari A. DeWees, Amy C. Miller

chapter 19|14 pages

COVID-19, the pand(m)emic 1

Social media explorations from the Arab world
ByNoha Fikry, Nada M. Ahmed, Malin E. Almeland-Grøhn, Laila ElKoussy, Mostafa A. ElSharkawy, Farah Seifeldin, Ahmed Ashraf Younis