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UKRI-AHRC funded Scenes of Shame and Stigma in COVID-19 Seminar

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Shame and Stigma: the Dark Side of Covid Policymaking with Dr Ray Earwicker

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A Scenes of Shame and Stigma in COVID-19 Seminar with Dr Ray Earwicker: 'Shame and Stigma: the Dark Side of Covid Policymaking'.

This seminar is part of the Scenes of Shame and Stigma in Covid-19 Seminar Series, and is organised by the Scenes of Shame and Stigma in COVID-19 Research Project, funded by the UKRI-AHRC “Ideas to Address COVID” rapid response grant.

Shame and Stigma: the Dark Side of Covid Policymaking.

We are told that Covid policymaking follows the evidence – “data not dates” – yet lurking behind this simple formula lies a readiness to shame and blame individuals for any rise in cases. Remember the ads. A poorly woman in a hospital bed asking you to look into her eyes and tell her you haven’t broken the rules and are not responsible for her condition. A scenario that invites the ‘innocent’ to stone the ‘guilty’. Such shaming in social policy has deep roots. This talk will explore how such a shame-based approach leads to policy failure, divides society and widens inequalities. The integrity of the policy process and the resolve of policymakers are stress-tested by their responses to events such as Covid and the 2008-09 economic crash. Efforts to learn lessons and improve policymaking will count for nothing, however, without a determination to break with past practice. Otherwise, shaming and blaming individuals will continue to serve as cover for institutional and policy failure.

Dr Ray Earwicker is an honorary fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments at the University of Exeter. Previously, a career civil servant at the Department of Health until 2017. He was secretary to the Independent Inquiry into Health Inequalities (the Acheson Report) 1997-98 and chaired the EU Equity Action programme on health inequalities 2011-14.

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The event will be recorded, so by agreeing to participate you agree to be recorded. To maintain privacy, you are welcome to join the meeting with video turned off. 

Organized in collaboration with the Wellcome funded Shame and Medicine Project.


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Organizer Wellcome Centre for the Cultures + Environments of Health

Organizer of UKRI-AHRC funded Scenes of Shame and Stigma in COVID-19 Seminar

The Wellcome Centre for Cultures + Environments of Health is a centre of excellence that aims to develop and sustain cultures and environments that support health and well-being.

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