Past epidemics can tell us a lot about the current crisis, according to new study

Concordia’s Joel Bothello uses historical and fictional accounts of the Black Death to analyze humanity’s response to disruptions like COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic subsided in the first half of 2020, few authors have seen renewed interest like Algerian-born French existentialist Albert Camus.his classic his 1947 novel epidemic The story of an isolated town plagued by a bubonic plague outbreak. The plague is lingering and health officials are struggling to contain it. Citizens are experiencing the erosion of civil order, the collapse of trust in institutions, and the gradual onset of general paranoia. Sound familiar?

Joel Bothello, Associate Professor of Business Administration, John Molson School of Business, We recently published a paper on this topic Academy of Management ReviewIn it, he argues that Camus’ fictional plague, along with the very real Black Death and subsequent deadly waves of the 14th century, can be better understood using Event Systems Theory (EST). doing. This relatively new management theory reconstructs social turmoil as the result of a slowly unfolding chain of connected events out of isolated events. So what happened before the pandemic, Chernobyl, or the 9/11 attacks, and what happened after?

The long read-up and aftermath of catastrophes can provide a deeper understanding than the study of the chaos itself, the authors argue. Rather than looking at one event, each of these disruptions should be viewed as an accumulation of transformative events.”

Similarities across the ages

Bosello and Roulette studied four books and two fictional books about past epidemic outbreaks. epidemic and Daniel Defoe a Pestoyear’s Journal — And two non-fiction — The Black Death and the Transformation of the West David Herlihy and Awakening of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Created By Norman Cantor.

They found that over the centuries, the basic nature of human response to disruption and the profound changes that follow has not changed. In all four books, they find evidence of social stagnation, disorientation, polarization and denial.

stagnation Refers to a group of people who do not know or understand the events in the chain and thus cannot properly engage with them.When disruption occurs, the population experiences disorientation And no one knows how long it will be before life returns to normal. polarization It occurs when attempts to assign responsibilities are transferred to specific groups, often leading to scapegoating and xenophobia. and, denial The collapse of existing belief systems and a decline in trust in authorities, whether religious, civic, or scientific. These lead to macro-level changes in economic, political and cultural norms.

“Even though we are supposedly more sophisticated now, human behavior patterns are very similar,” notes Bosello.

Subjective and Objective Views of Doomsday

“I chose these particular books because they look at the Black Death through different levels of analysis,” he explains. “Novels, though fictional, capture subjective experiences that draw on real events and real people. are paying attention to.”

Given the right framework, there is much to be learned from past disasters, says Bosello, research chair for resilience and institutions at Concordia University.

“EST helps us reconceptualize disruption because it has typically been treated as a one-off impact,” he adds. “When we apply this new lens to it, we can see how events occur at different levels, how they connect to each other, and even how they intersect with different event chains. We can look at disruption from a holistic perspective and see how it translates into organizational and social change.”

Read the cited paper.An Event Systems Perspective on Disruption: Theorizing of Pandemics and Other Discontinuities Through Historical and Fictional Accounts of the Plague.

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Past epidemics can tell us a lot about the current crisis, according to new study

Source link Past epidemics can tell us a lot about the current crisis, according to new study

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