About this Research Topic
The global COVID-19 crisis has put the health of millions of people under stake, and the capacity of healthcare systems under extreme pressure, revealing the lack of preparedness and coordination of international and national democratic institutions to stand out together against it.
The pandemic has clearly reveled at least two societal trends that deserve to be analyzed from Social Sciences and especially from Sociology. First, the leadership failure of national and international governmental institutions, evidenced in their uncoordinated, dithering, and lagged reactions to cope with the COVID-19 at the very initial moment (Dec 2019, January 2020). Second, the still weak relation between science-society-politics, and even though major efforts invested in closing the gap between them, the uneven permeability of the policy spheres to seriously consider scientific evidence, something that would have potentially cushioned the effects of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, these trends are already having a profound damage at the structural level, eroding civic trust in public institutions -and in democracy-, severely exacerbating the human costs of COVID, and unleashing a never seen economic downturn, the reality of how the crisis is being managed and organized at the very grassroots is somehow different. Where governments and those in charge showed to be missing, networks of diverse societal actors operating at the local level are coordinating efforts worldwide and organizing to alleviate the impact, especially on those most at risk communities.
Framed within this context, this Research Topic is aimed at exploring and discussing cases in which diverse actors are self-organizing across different societal areas (from employment, education, health, social and political participation, prevention of violence, housing, or others), re-emerging from the grassroots levels to articulate and provide responses to this health emergency with agendas that demand for a major transparency, accountability, and social justice of public institutional bodies. In parallel with this, it will pay particular attention on cases in which science and society is collaborating, in some cases reacting and stop-gapping responses in those sites where institutional leaders are absents, or in others actively responding to illuminate durable solutions needed to be implemented by public institutions. Being this the main theme on which this Issue focuses, we strongly suggest potential pieces to tackle how the following aspects have also paid a role in the cases brought to analysis:
- The capacity of actions and strategies emerged at the grassroots to go beyond national borders and generate a major sense of international solidarity.
- Cases in which ethnic and cultural communities (e.g.: from the Roma communities in Europe, to Indigenous peoples and communities of African descent (maroons) in Latin-America and other parts of the world) are organizing to contest the challenges posed by the COVID19, unveiling ways of practicing leadership which can act and reach quickly the needs of those on the ground.
- The ways in which these emerged solidarities on the ground might impact on shaping societal and cultural relations after the end of the health emergency.
- The extent to which such solidarities can potentially strengthen democratic institutions, and the contrary, the potential perils in accelerating the breakdown of democracies that were already fragile.
- The challenges and opportunities to advance towards a tighter relation between science and society at different governance levels, and reflected in existing examples.
- Other relevant topics tackling upon the ones mentioned above.
***Due to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 situation, Frontiers is waiving all article published within this Research Topic.***
Keywords: COVID19, grassroots actors, public leadership, at-risk communities, inequalities, science and society
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