The Trauma Of The Coronavirus Pandemic Among Polish Students
From Firenze University Press Journal: Cambio
Piotr Długosz, Pedagogical University of Krakow
Modernity has made man believe that they rule over nature and control all the elements. Nonetheless, along with modernisation processes, its negative effects appeared. Humans have been exposed to health and ecological threats triggered by their activity. The Bhopal disaster connected with environmental contamination or the Chernobyl disaster have shown that the effects of modernisation may be dangerous and pose a threat to human health and lives.
Together with technological advancement, the modernisation risk has grown to an unprecedented scale. The dark side of modernity, as observed by Ulrich Beck (1992: 20), abounds in various modernisation risks. The growth of the reign of technological and economic advancement is to a greater extent balanced by the production of risk, which only at early stages may be labelled as “latent” side effects.
The veil of concealment is lifted along with universalisation of threats. Threats to the lives of plants, animals and humans emerge. What is more, together with emerging globalisation, they become commonplace and no one can hide or escape from them. We are witnesses to the rise of a global society of risk.
As noticed by Anthony Giddens (2006: 91), the modern risk refers to all the social classes in all the countries and the reach of its consequences — experienced by everyone — is indeed global. Many kinds of man-made risk, like those regarding health and environment, reach beyond country borders. The global threat of diseases spreads all over the world like tsunami waves, sowing fear and death.
The 20th century might be called the age of global epidemics. Dangerous transmissible diseases often appeared on Earth. One may refer to the most dangerous ones, which appeared in the recent decades: SARS (2002–2003), Avian influenza (2003–2006), Swine influenza (2009–2010), Ebola (2013–2016), Measles (2019-present). In spite of the threat caused by the above-mentioned epidemics, we have never been put in jeopardy of their fatal consequences.
Only coronavirus has brought a real threat to health and life. The fear of the virus has grown, as it became global by rapidly spreading all over the world. In the middle of December 2019, in the Wuhan city in Central China, a new type of coronavirus was diagnosed, which turned out to be similar in terms of its genetic sequence to the SARS virus which causes acute respiratory syndrome.
The new virus called SARS-CoV-2, which causes the COVID-19 disease, started spreading all over the world rapidly. In March the virus incidence in Europe has increased dramatically. On 11th March 2020, World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus pandemic. Thus it may be said that COVID-19 has become a global plague of the 21st century, which leads to high mortality and gives rise to worldwide fears of infection and the effects of becoming infected.
On 29th March 2020 there were almost 700 000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the world and more than 32 000 died due to the virus. In Poland there were 1862 confirmed cases and 22 deaths (The reach ….2020). The coronavirus pandemic is a global phenomenon and a destructive force. The example of social reactions to the threat gives grounds to claim that a moral panic rose, which is expressed by increased anxiety, global society’s fear of the disease and death (Cohen 2011). Another concept which allows for explaining the social meaning of the observed phenomenon is the theory of trauma by Piotr Sztompka (2000).
The rapidly growing number of infected and so far unprecedented number of fatalities came as shock in the society. The aim of this article is to show how Polish students who had to stay home since 11.03.2020 due to the suspension of University classes and lectures reacted to the pandemic. Yet another aim of the article is an attempt to capture this macro experiment based on subjecting young people, who had led an active lifestyle and had not known any social cataclysms, to mandatory quarantine.
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