Title of Abstract

The Social Construction of Grief and Loss During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Michael Sickels, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Sociology, Criminology & Anthropology

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many to experience different kinds of losses, from job loss to the death of a loved one, in communities worldwide. This especially applies to college students, as anticipated college experiences and opportunities suddenly disappeared. We wanted to examine how the social construction of loss among this population has been shaped by the pandemic and the changed social landscape that has resulted from COVID-19 regulations, such as social distancing and self-isolation. To do this, we conducted semi-structured interviews with college students at a small liberal arts college to learn about their experiences and understanding of loss throughout the pandemic, recruiting participants through convenience sampling. We also looked at university emails and articles released during the pandemic to see how the institution addressed student concerns. Out of our twelve participants, we found that all of them mentioned that they had experienced social changes or social deconstruction and used coping methods to deal with the losses they faced. They also experienced a phenomenon we called COVID socialization, defined as resocialization in the face of new social norms. Our results show the impact of COVID-19 and associated regulations on college students’ social construction of and experience with loss.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

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Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

The Social Construction of Grief and Loss During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many to experience different kinds of losses, from job loss to the death of a loved one, in communities worldwide. This especially applies to college students, as anticipated college experiences and opportunities suddenly disappeared. We wanted to examine how the social construction of loss among this population has been shaped by the pandemic and the changed social landscape that has resulted from COVID-19 regulations, such as social distancing and self-isolation. To do this, we conducted semi-structured interviews with college students at a small liberal arts college to learn about their experiences and understanding of loss throughout the pandemic, recruiting participants through convenience sampling. We also looked at university emails and articles released during the pandemic to see how the institution addressed student concerns. Out of our twelve participants, we found that all of them mentioned that they had experienced social changes or social deconstruction and used coping methods to deal with the losses they faced. They also experienced a phenomenon we called COVID socialization, defined as resocialization in the face of new social norms. Our results show the impact of COVID-19 and associated regulations on college students’ social construction of and experience with loss.