Kanisha D. Bond, Milli Lake, and Sarah E. Parkinson offer four lessons from conflict research for the “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series. Based on their own extensive backgrounds conducting fieldwork in insecure places, the authors outline several points for researchers newly grappling with pandemic-induced insecurity: that crisis heightens conditions of vulnerability and inequality, that fieldwork is perpetually fraught, that researchers must demonstrate restraint, and that empathy is key. Keeping these lessons in mind, they argue, will help researchers to center the concerns of those at the margins and produce research that is both methodologically and ethically sound.
In this essay for the “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series, Sarah Parkinson examines authoritarian practices at work in White House press briefings regarding Covid-19 in the United States. She argues that the briefings can serve as a barometer of the state of US democracy at the same time that they actively erode democratic norms and institutions. She finds that there are three ways in which the briefings challenge democracy: prompting obedience without belief, establishing guidelines for speech and behavior, and overwhelming the attention of the media.