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British J Social Psychol - 2022 - Drury - The interactional production and breach of new norms in the time of COVID‐19 .pdf (4.46 MB)

The interactional production and breach of new norms in the time of COVID-19: Achieving physical distancing in public spaces

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posted on 2022-08-12, 12:59 authored by John Drury, Elizabeth Stokoe
A key requirement of COVID-19 pandemic behavioural regulations in many countries was for people to ‘physically distance’ from one another, which meant departing radically from established norms of everyday human sociality. Previous research on new norms has been retrospective or prospective, focusing on reported levels of adherence to regulations or the intention to do so. In this paper, we take an observational approach to study the embodied and spoken interactional practices through which people produce or breach the new norm. The dataset comprises 20 ‘self-ethnographic’ fieldnotes collected immediately following walks and runs in public spaces between March and September 2020, and these were analysed in the ethnomethodological tradition. We show that and how the new norm emerged through the mutual embodied and spoken conduct of strangers in public spaces. Orientations to the new norm were observed as people torqued their bodies away from each other in situations where there was insufficient space to create physical distance. We also describe how physical distance was produced unilaterally or was aggressively resisted by some people. Finally, we discuss the practical and policy implications of our observations both for deciding what counts as physical distancing and how to support the public to achieve it.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • Communication and Media

Published in

British Journal of Social Psychology

Volume

61

Issue

3

Pages

971 - 990

Publisher

Wiley

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© the Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Wiley under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Acceptance date

2021-11-29

Publication date

2021-12-27

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

0144-6665

eISSN

2044-8309

Language

  • en

Depositor

Prof Elizabeth Stokoe . Deposit date: 1 December 2021

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