As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe, experts used models to project future developments and to advise on effective…
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, as pundits, politicians, and citizens all pored over data dashboards detailing infection rates and deaths, Heidi Tworek asked: What is the historical rationale for how statistics came to become the authentic mode to represent disease? Bringing historical insight to a contemporary problem of science communication, Tworek explores the power and limit of statistics to drive public health interventions.
In the opening essay for the “Beyond Disinformation” series, Wendy HK Chun asks whether authenticity may provide a more useful lens for investigating contemporary social problems that are often treated uniformly as problems of mis- and disinformation.
The failure to recognize dangerous speech—rhetoric that can inspire group violence—from Trump and other strongmen around the world is just one example of social media companies’ poor use of their vast private power. In this essay, Susan Benesch argues that while international human rights law was made for governments and not private companies, it has the potential, if adequately interpreted, to serve as a guide for social media companies to regulate hateful speech and for outsiders to hold these companies accountable.
Disaster Management in Japan during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Were the Lessons Learned from Large-scale Natural Disasters Applied?by Mampei Hayashi
Sitting on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Japan is one of the “ring of fire” countries subject to frequent earthquakes and other natural disasters. In this essay, Mampei Hayashi provides a critical examination of the Japanese government’s disaster management policies to address the Covid-19 pandemic, arguing that the government has wavered, switching between policies to suppress the pandemic and policies to stimulate the economy. Hayashi advises use of the Disaster Management Cycle to plan and implement a more coherent set of policies to not only deal with the immediate emergency, but also to develop plans for recovery and mitigation of similar future disasters.
Popular discourse over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasized its “unprecedented” nature, but a deep history of public health crises communication informs how this current crisis is understood and experienced by the US public. Jacqueline Wernimont explains how messaging around life and death at scale have always been mediated by statistics and communication technologies, and explores the consequences of current failures in that mediation.
In her contribution to the “Extremism Online” series, Cindy Ma unpacks the rhetorical strategies used by right-wing YouTube microcelebrities to insert increasingly racist and white supremacist tropes into popular discourse while shielding themselves from accusations of extremism.
How can organization leaders make strategic choices that allow them to exercise power in politics? Our book, Prisms of the People, attempts to answer this question by drawing on several case studies of organizations that have won significant victories for their constituencies. In our “prism” metaphor, organizations are the prisms that refract a group’s actions […]
Haruka Sakamoto examines Japan’s strategy for dealing with Covid-19, which, unlike the strategies chosen by other nations, has used only limited PCR testing and made little use of IT methods for tracking those who might have encountered infected individuals. Based on her years of experience working for the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare as well as serving as a consultant for the WHO, the Gates Foundation, and the World Bank, she presents an inside view of Japanese policymaking and the legal framework and constraints that have shaped Japanese strategies.
In this contribution to the “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series, Deepak Lamba-Nieves shares a noteworthy contact tracing case study from the Puerto Rican mountain town of Villalba. While Puerto Rico has received recent attention for both its severe lockdowns and compliance-averse tourists, Lamba-Nieves describes contact tracing protocols developed at the local level that emphasized qualitative outreach as well as quantitative data collection. Though many contact tracing initiatives and policy discussions during the pandemic have focused on digital mechanisms, he suggests that paying attention to small-scale success stories such as this one offers important lessons for future programs.
In recent years, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have taken steps to constrain the ability of users to share or amplify racist discourse on their platforms. However, Bharath Ganesh argues, by limiting the focus of their efforts to only the most egregious forms of racist discourse, the platforms may embolden broader networks of extremists to levy less obvious, but equally pernicious forms of racist discourse.