COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on a global scale, affecting not only public health but also the economy, politics, and sociocultural elements. Therefore, anthropology is highly relevant in the context of the pandemic because the problem and its solutions directly influenced the global society. During the outbreak, I became more aware of the importance of personal hygiene and public health promotion, such as thoroughly washing hands with soap or wearing a mask, and how important it is for the entire society to comply in order to slow down the spread. The US experienced major struggles in properly responding to a virus due to the mixing of politics and pandemic. Autocratic nations proved to be more effective at responding to the virus than democratic nations, which means that it shakes already unstable democratic institutions.
Examples of long-term culture change anticipated as a direct result of COVID-19
Insignificant culture change examples can include mask-wearing as a fashion statement, but more significant ones are public health awareness, disease control, and stigmatization. The latter is highly explicit, where racism and stigmatization of Asians, including Asian-Americans, can lead to long-term oppression and hate directed towards the group. Although racism against Asian-Americans existed before the pandemic, it became more prominent during the COVID-19 outbreak, and as a consequence, it will be an unpleasant one since some members of society might continue to express hate towards Asians long after the pandemic is over (Tessler et al. 636).
The second change revolves around disease control’s collateral damage because combatting the spread of the virus requires a collective effort, which can only be imposed effectively through laws. The side effect of effective disease control is that individual freedom can become less of a priority since health is as if not more important than individual liberty.
Tessler, Hannah, et al. “The Anxiety of Being Asian American: Hate Crimes and Negative Biases During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” American Journal of Criminal Justice, vol. 45, 2020, pp. 636–646.