Between online and offline solidarity: lessons learned from the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Maria Laura Ruiu, Massimo Ragnedda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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This paper focuses on four e-initiatives that were precipitated by the coronavirus outbreak in Italy. These experiences played a relevant role in developing multilevel solidarity (from the local to the global level) both online and offline. They are represented by the hashtags “#iorestoacasa” (I stay at home) and “#andràtuttobene” (everything will be alright), “performances on the balcony,” “influencers’ campaigns,” and “altruism and e-parochialism.” These experiences represent revealing examples essential to understand the benefits that a mediated form of solidarity can produce. This is particularly important given the challenges that solidarity faces due to the technological acceleration imposed by the pandemic, which is likely to influence social relationships even in the post-pandemic era. Four lessons can be learned from these expressions of e-solidarity related to the capacity of Information and Communication Technologies to (1) promote unconditioned altruism; (2) fight “parochialism” when the same disadvantaged condition is shared; (3) their capacity to develop a multilevel sense of community by connecting the local experience to the global dimension; and (4) to mediate between institutional sources and people, and connect family members, friends, vulnerable people with neighbors, and the global community. This last point suggests that the pandemic has offered fertile ground for both mechanical and organic forms of solidarity to emerge. On the one hand, it created a collective conscience based on shared vulnerabilities and interdependence. On the other hand, it is based on individualization and diversity. Indeed, these examples of Durkheimian collective effervescence show the paradox of a form of collective individualized and mediated solidarity, which is typical of contemporary society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Early online date1 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Nov 2022


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