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

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Abstract

This paper focuses on four e-initiatives that were triggered 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 all right), “performances on the balcony”, “influencers’ campaigns” and “altruism and e-parochialism”. These experiences represent virtuous examples to understand the positives 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.
Four lessons can be learned from these expressions of e-solidarity related to the capacity of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to i) promote unconditioned altruism and ii) fight “parochialism” when the same disadvantaged condition is shared; iii) their capacity to develop a multilevel sense of community by connecting the local experience to the global dimension and iv) to mediate between institutional sources and people, and connect family members, friends, vulnerable people with neighbours, and the global community. This last point suggests that the pandemic has offered fertile ground for both mechanic and organic forms of solidarity to emerge. On the one hand, it created a collective conscience (a whole) based on sharing a disadvantaged condition and interdependence. On the other hand, it is based on individualisation and diversity. Indeed, these examples of Durkheimian collective effervescence show the paradox of a form of collective individualised and mediated solidarity, which is typical of contemporary society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Jul 2021

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