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Accepted Paper:

A Social Cure for COVID-19: Importance of social networks in combatting socio-economic and emotional health challenges in urban slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh during the pandemic  
Selima Kabir (BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University) Amal Chowdhury (BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health) Moumita Islam (BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University) Sabina Rashid (BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University) Rosemary Morgan (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) Clare Wenham Julia Smith (Simon Fraser University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the role of social networks in coping with the loss of income/work during COVID-19 lockdowns, to understand how Dhaka urban poor relied on their social networks in face of adversity to survive the emotional stress, food insecurity and worsening poverty brought on by the pandemic.

Paper long abstract:

The government of Bangladesh announced a series of lockdowns throughout the country in response to the COVID pandemic. The sudden lockdowns caused an economic rupture with 71% of those living in slums and 61% of those living in non-slum areas losing work (The Business Standard, 2020).

In this paper, we explore the great importance of social networks in the resilience and coping strategies of those who lost income and work during COVID-19 lockdowns. Informal networks, whether reciprocal or exploitative, play an integral role in urban slums as a means of coping with the general lack of formal systems and support for the poorer households. Due to the congested living conditions in slums, members of different households are able to foster close, trusting relationships and a strong sense of community.

Our analysis attempts to unpack the ways in which our respondents drew on the resilience of their own social networks to combat the socio-economic and emotional health challenges brought on by a lack of adequate formalized support as part of the pandemic response. It draws on the conceptual framework of stress-buffering (Cohen, 2004), which explains how having social support helps in alleviating stress; and examines the ways in which respondents utilize their social capital (Bourdieu, 2000) in order to navigate their informal social networks in order to leverage emotional, financial and/or in-kind (usually food) support as needed to survive.

Panel P169a
Long Covid: Future Orientations for Novel Pandemics [Medical Anthropology Europe Network]
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -