The many pieces of the Covid-19 jigsaw: some reflections on waves one and two

Soundings - ISSN 1362-6620
Volume 2022 Number 80

The many pieces of the Covid-19 jigsaw: some reflections on waves one and two
Steve Iliffe, Jill Manthorpe pages 65-81
DOI: 10.3898/SOUN.80.05.2022


Drawing on insights from psychology, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, health economics and medical ethics, this article explores two linked aspects of the management of the Covid-19 pandemic during its first and second waves in the UK. The first aspect is the range of cognitive and emotional responses to the imminent collapse of authority early in the crisis, and how these played out in public and private. Ultimately, the NHS fallback response was the ‘Rule of Rescue’, the requirement to rescue identifiable individuals in immediate peril, regardless of the cost. The second aspect is the meaning of heroism in the context of this pandemic. This includes the Clap for Carers initiative - and its function as an endorsement of others’ deeds; the use of war imagery and war resources in mobilising against the infection; and the possibilities for different objects of applause to appear when seen from different standpoints. Linking these two aspects together we argue that the potential collapse of authority helps explain responses that seek heroes in the war against the virus and see war strategy and tactics as deserving of our support. We also ask what will remain of the pandemic in public memory.

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To cite this article
Steve Iliffe, Jill Manthorpe (2022) The many pieces of the Covid-19 jigsaw: some reflections on waves one and two, Soundings, 2022(80), 65-81.

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