Session: Critical Analyses of Pandemic Discourses to Reimagine a Socially Just Society: Ageism, Domestic Violence, and Migrant Labor in the Context of Coronavirus (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

9 Critical Analyses of Pandemic Discourses to Reimagine a Socially Just Society: Ageism, Domestic Violence, and Migrant Labor in the Context of Coronavirus

Wednesday, January 20, 2021: 1:30 PM-2:30 PM
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Heather Storer, Ph.D., University of Louisville, Odessa Gonzalez-Benson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Claire Willey-Sthapit, MSSW, University of Washington, Sarah Jen, University of Kansas and Brandon Mitchell, BA, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Public discourses around the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic have laid bare myriad structural and systemic inequities present in the United States welfare state in areas of housing, health, and access to services. Older adults are constructed as expendable. Asian Americans face mounting racial prejudice. Longstanding health inequities among African American communities have drawn new attention. Discussions have erased the state's responsibility to intervene in domestic and family violence, reified popular notions of home as a place of safety, while dismantling dominant constructions of survivor agency and choice. Migrant workers, many of whom are undocumented farm workers, have been redefined as essential workers in the economic sphere, while being denied access to coronavirus related stimulus funding. Indeed, a close analysis of the public discourses surrounding the pandemic exposes enduring biases, discrimination, and marginalization of underrepresented and stigmatized populations.

Using the coronavirus pandemic as a timely example, the purpose of this roundtable is to discuss how critical discourse analysis (CDA) can be used as both a tool for exposing persistent societal injustices and mechanisms of inequality, while concurrently reimagining a new more inclusive world order. CDA is a powerful tool for social work researchers to critically unpack the construction of everyday language and social practices. As a methodology, CDA provides a process for examining language-in-use, including the construction of identities, constitution of social relationships, reification of political ideologies, and privileging of particular sets of norms, beliefs, and systems of power. While there has been considerable attention paid to the potential of CDA to amplify systems of inequality and privilege, there has been less emphasis on its potential to function as a tool to initiate societal reckoning and moves toward social justice.

The authors of this roundtable will briefly describe our individual CDA research projects examining prominent discourses in the news media of the coronavirus pandemic. These span a variety of content areas including: ageism and older adults; domestic violence and child maltreatment; and migrant labor. We will briefly describe our research questions, motivations for the project, methods, and the discourses which emerged from these processes. Each of us concludes with discussions of how our findings can be leveraged for the promotion of social justice.

The majority of the roundtable will be devoted to group discussion related to the public discourses participants have documented throughout the time of the pandemic and on the potential for CDA to initiate meaningful social change. We will encourage participants to discuss their own ideas regarding, questions about, and current work on discourse-related and CDA projects. We will encourage audience members to struggle with and create solutions to the challenges of utilizing CDA as a method to spark social justice. We will aim to discuss the translation and dissemination of findings to promote social justice both within and beyond the field of social work.

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