2020: Living the territories at CoViD time (special issue)
Special issue section 2 - Changing living practices, values and demands

Epidemie e coscienza sociale nel lungo periodo

Lucia Carle
EHESS, Paris

Published 2020-12-06


  • Covid,
  • epidemic/pandemic,
  • social consciousness,
  • history,
  • long period

How to Cite

Carle, L. (2020). Epidemie e coscienza sociale nel lungo periodo. Scienze Del Territorio, 53–62. https://doi.org/10.13128/sdt-12332


Since antiquity, humanity has been facing epidemics, one of the great recurring fears in the society of the Ancient Régime. In the long run they have generated or accelerated new collective behaviours, as well as the repetition and perpetuation of ancient reactions and behaviours. The fundamental measures – distancing, isolation, hygiene – generated by the confrontation and coexistence with the disease, are the corpus of long-lasting collective behaviours, handed down and dusted off with each epidemic/pandemic resurgence. Long-term epidemics affect territories, contributing to the definition of their peculiarities. Once imported, they assume precise and different features peculiar to each area, creating short duration spatial and social boundaries. They leave marks in social collective consciousness, modifying during their incidence the related, circumscribed and enlarged horizons defined by anthropic components. Every pandemic crisis affects social collective consciousness. In populations there is always both a rejection of the disease, although evident, up to its denial, and the insistent desire to ‘behave as before’. This is one of the major issues political and health authorities face, today as in the past, fighting against the infection spread and attempting to overcome it. The epidemic accelerates ongoing or underlying processes, influencing collective evolutions and changes. In a long-term perspective, epidemics are ‘bottlenecks’ that have forced societies to concretely deal with the consequences of their fundamental deficiencies.


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