To be or Not to be Anxious: How Parents Responded to Health Risks during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Denmark

Barbara Fersch, Anna Schneider-Kamp, Karen Nielsen Breidahl

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This paper investigates how parents of children in primary school dealt with anxiety in the context of pandemic health risks during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Denmark, this group found itself at the frontline of the reopening after an early lock-down. Creches, kindergartens, and primary
schools were among the first societal institutions to reopen, with the youngest pupils in primary schools to return first. This had been discussed controversially among parents, and one day after the announcement of the reopening a Facebook group called “My child should not be a guinea pig for COVID-19” had emerged. In this paper, we are analyzing how these and other parents dealt with this situation, based on qualitative interviews with 30 key informants (parents and teachers) supplemented by a qualitative survey filled in by 31 parents, collected during the first re-opening phase (April – July2020). Our findings indicate several types of strategies of dealing with anxiety and risk, namely some
that involve trust (1), especially in schools and teachers, enabling the parents to overcome their anxiety related to sending their children back to school, and others, that are not primarily built on trust, but rather on ignoring the anxious “gut feeling” (2) and resisting strategies (3) either in an overt (openly criticizing the re-opening) or hidden (e.g. keeping the child home sick) way. As our sample included a group of asylum seekers, our findings also indicate that patterns of exclusion in the context of an universal welfare state and a society characterized by comparatively high equality might mean a limitation of possible strategies, as e.g. resisting strategies appeared to be out of reach for that particular group.
Publikationsdatofeb. 2021
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2021
BegivenhedIV ISA Forum of Sociology 2021 : Forum online - Online
Varighed: 23. feb. 202127. feb. 2021


KonferenceIV ISA Forum of Sociology 2021


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