Leitunterscheidungen pandemischer Humandifferenzierung. Eine Chronik

Stefan Hirschauer | Clara Terjung

The paper examines the COVID-19 pandemic through the theoretical lens of human differentiation. Presented as a chronicle, it tracks the contemporary shifts in key distinctions and linguistic categories for human individuals observable in retrospect over the course of the first three years of the pandemic (2020–2023).

It focuses on two main aspects: first, the shift from differentiating between infected and non-infected individuals, or “threateners” and “endangered”, to distinguishing between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals; and second, the categorical ramifications of these two primary distinctions. The analysis of ethno-semantic changes sheds light on the reshaping of “socio-mental maps” during the pandemic. The narrative approach with systematic interest begins by reconstructing the evolutionary trajectory of these key distinctions and the semantic shift in their categories.

It then analyzes how society responded to the issue of identifying the infected, ranging from external detection in laboratories to home self-testing and certification at public checkpoints. The third focal point lies in the specialized procedure of triage. The thesis contends that the profound restructuring of societal categorizations during the COVID-19 pandemic emanated from a deep lack of knowledge about the novel categorical assignments and their highly ambiguous nature, which is quite unusual in the realm of human differentiations.

Hirschauer, Stefan; Terjung, Clara 2024: Leitunterscheidungen pandemischer Humandifferenzierung. Eine Chronik. Berliner Journal für Soziologie 2024 (1).