26 Apr

Making Sense of the Post-Covid World: Continuities and Changes

Marion Fourcade (University of California, Berkeley)


About the event

Joint Lecture Series
Making Sense of the Post-Covid World: Continuities and Changes

26 April 2022 – 19 July 2022
Tuesdays 1:00 p.m. (Rio de Janeiro), 6:00 p.m. (Berlin and Hamburg)

The pandemic has produced ambivalent consequences for social life. Intersectional inequalities, combining, class, ethno-racial, citizenship, and gender inequalities, both between and within countries, grew during the pandemic and became even more difficult to be mitigated in the post-covid world. At the same time, the global virus has irrefutably revealed the high level of interdependency between different social groups, world regions, as well as between human and nonhuman living beings. However, this did not lead to more solidarity at the national and global level as individualistic and antagonistic responses to the pandemic have created and exacerbated divisions and divides. At the same time, these glaring problems came to the fore and demands to tackle them have grown.

This series of lectures seeks to discuss these ambivalent and long-lasting effects of the pandemic on societies: What has been the impact on social inequality and how does this affect the transformation prospects especially of poor countries? What is the impact of the global virus on world politics? How have the pandemic affected the sense of solidarity at the local, national, and global level? How does the global experience of living with and fighting the pandemic affect the treatment of issues concerning the planet’s common future, such as climate change?

To address these questions, the Institute for Social and Political Studies (IESP/Rio de Janeiro), the Hamburg Institute for Social Research (HIS/ Hamburg) and the Institute of Latin American Studies (LAI /FU Berlin) have invited eight experts from different fields of social sciences to give digital lectures followed by debates with the audience. The lectures will take place between April and July 2022 and will be interposed by internal preparatory sessions at each of the organizing institutes. The series of events is funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation within the framework of the Anneliese Meier Research Award conferred to Prof. Domingues, one of the convenors of this lecture series.


 26 April 2022
The Great Online Migration. Covid-19 and the Virtualization of American Public Schools, Marion Fourcade (University of California, Berkeley)

The Covid-19 pandemic has been associated with the accelerated deployment of the virtual economy. As societies protected themselves from contagion by limiting interpersonal interactions, a wide range of activities – education, work, social relations, learning, spirituality, leisure, business and politics – quickly reassembled in distancing mode. And as the pandemic stretched out from weeks to months to over a year, these reorganizations started to look permanent.

This conference by Marion Fourcade will explore this “great online migration” through the prism of the virtualization of public schools in the United States. Elementary and secondary schools (or K-12 in American jargon) offer a particularly useful vantage point for analyzing the promises, failures and long-term implications of the digital switchover forced by the onset of the pandemic. Not only have these institutions found themselves at the center of controversies over the legitimacy of lockdowns, but the transition to “distance learning” has been particularly radical and difficult. Finally, the schools’ transformation during this period reveals the growing dependence of public services on technology providers, which strive not only to service new needs, but also to reinvent them in their own image.

Marion Fourcade is Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Sociology at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) for 2019-2020. She is the author of Economists and Societies: Discipline and Profession in the United States, Britain and France, 1890s to 1990s (Princeton University Press, 2009). Her current work focuses on the politics of wine classification and taste in France and the United States and on new forms of stratification, morality, and profit in the digital economy. A book from this project, The Ordinal Society (with Kieran Healy), is under contract with Harvard University Press.

Registrations via zoom.