A year after the health emergency and the start of restrictive measures, speculation about the post-covid future is starting to take shape. What awaits us once the pandemic is over? Companies that have succeeded in neutralizing the massive spread of the virus, like New Zealand and Australia, or that have quickly implemented a vaccination process for their citizens, like Israel, appear to be optimistic mirrors.
Rugby stadiums full of maskless supporters like in Oceania or iconic tourist destinations like Jerusalem repeating their openness to visitors become portraits of what would – in theory – be possible to predict once the pandemic is over.
The combination of events with crowds, unlimited mobility and economic reactivation seems to indicate a return to the old normal. Are we supposed to go back in time? Or will we see the changes experienced during the pandemic continue, affecting how and how much we work, educate, have fun, eat and socialize?
These are the questions that drive the book “Sustainable Lifestyles After Covid”, recently published by the Routledge label of Taylor & Francis. Over its 152 pages, this study co-authored by a group of experts in sustainable development dissects the long-term trends triggered by policies to fight against covid-19 at the level of social behavior. The book addresses the tension between a return to the pre-Covidian habit and the emergence of a “new normal” and describes four scenarios for how we will live in the future.
Developing post-crisis scenarios reintroduces a sense of order, anticipating trajectories and outcomes and reducing the anxieties of leaders, organizations and citizens about what is to come. Scenarios are stories about what the future will be like, speculative tales of how people will live their lives after the impact of covid. Insofar as consumption and sociability have been the dimensions that have changed the most radically in volume, format and even objectives, they form the basis of scenario generation.
Strongly restricted consumption suggests two possible responses on the part of individuals: adopting vindictive behavior that seeks to compensate for feelings and experiences of repressed consumption and late gratification or, on the contrary, to value life more frugal, self-sufficient and less materialistic. inherited. lock. A privilege for those who have not lost income because of the pandemic, the first reaction is the return to conspicuous consumption and the accumulation of goods – the “normal old man”.
For many governments, it is the gamble of overcoming the crisis by encouraging purchases, the familiar “business as usual”. A future that excites many in the short term, but which conflicts with the next climate change mitigation agenda, which involves reducing and dematerializing our consumption and reversing the levels of waste and energy production. extraction of natural resources.
Social relations have also been greatly affected by scarcity, thus becoming more valuable and desirable. Two answers are possible: immersion in face-to-face social meetings seeking to reverse the experience of emotional deprivation and social belonging or, on the contrary, to get used to the remote connection where the advantages of privacy, security and convenience outweigh the cost of solitude. The second illustrates “the interiorization of virtuality”. Following either of these situations will depend less on social class and more on generational cuts.
Entangling these four possible answers, the four scenarios present themselves. Those who respond with vengeful consumption and social immersion will form the basis of the “old normal”. They will be governed by material incentives or mediations in their emotional relationships, as well as by pleasure, valuing status and convenience, associating well-being with tangible consumption of services and products. This subgroup is in favor of work and education along conventional lines and will be philosophically opposed to new quarantines.
POST-COVIDATED SCENARIOS SOCIAL RELATIONS Social immersion internalized virtuality consumption of the old vengeance virtualized materialistic normality post-material frugality post-online
The third scenario results from the confluence of those who aspire to social immersion but approach consumption from a post-material frugality. They are ‘gregarious simplifiers’ who resist both telework and online education, combine entertainment and well-being with contact with nature, family life and forms of interaction and integration. offline, reject status and aim for intellectual, sensory or social self-realization, participating in voluntary initiatives and promoting local commerce.
They adopt collaborative consumption and circular economy mechanisms, minimizing their environmental footprint. Those who combine avenging consumption orientations and internalized virtuality will constitute “virtual materialists”. They will be adept at social control, addicted to online shopping and delivery, little attention to well-being, anchored in physical and nutritional health, reluctant to leave home to work, learn or play. They will be characterized by being heavy consumers of information and the Internet, with little balance between family and professional life.
The last scenario consists of “online rebels”, who have assimilated social life mediated by computers or applications, but from a frugal position in their role as consumers, politically active in the networks, they apprehend the sphere. online in terms of resistance and peer cooperation, their distractions, as well as their education and work are done remotely via the Internet.
These four scenarios illustrate the different profiles that emerge from the pandemic and how they will relate to daily tasks and the next agenda focused on climate change concerns. They incorporate both new features and improved versions of old trends; for all, the post-covid future is an open, plural and stimulating puzzle.
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