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Posts Tagged ‘social change’

May 22, 2020. As we await the nation finding an equilibrium between Covid-19 deaths and routine life, observers are biding their shelter time forecasting the great social changes that the pandemic will have left in its wake. How much, how transformative, social change can we expect this pandemic to have brought?asteroid

Whether you anticipate profound changes or instead expect pretty much the same America after Covid-19 may depend on how you generally understand the way profound social change occurs. Does it entail “asteroidal” or “glacial” events? I borrow the terms from evolutionary history. An asteroid’s impact about 66 million years ago suddenly transformed life on Earth, including terminating the dinosaurs. On the other hand, gradual alterations in the earth’s spin and orientation expanded and reduced glacier coverage of the planet, which, in turn, slowly forced Earth’s life forms to adapt.

Is the Covid-19 pandemic an asteroidal shock to America, or will, a decade from now, its occurrence hardly be noted amidst America’s glacial changes?

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This year has seen disturbing flare-ups around issues of race, immigration, and white nativism generally.

Flags

Source: Chet Strange/Getty Images News

They ranged from clumsy White House tweets about Jewish “disloyalty” to angry controversies around two Muslim congresswomen, more episodes of police shootings of blacks, all the way to mass murders such as the slaughter of Latinos in an El Paso Walmart (and last year of synagogue-goers in Pittsburgh).

Correspondingly, Americans’ anxieties about race have spiked in recent years. In 2016, 38 percent of respondents told the Pew survey that they thought race relations have worsened; in 2019, 53 percent did.[1] Respondents to the Gallup Poll felt the same surge of concern. The following graph shows the percentage who said that they worried a “great deal” about race relations.[2]

Worry_Gallup

Does the rising tide of worry mean that the nation is descending into a maelstrom of racial conflict? More likely, we are seeing the kind of fearful and angry reaction that major social change often brings.

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