Resilience, vulnerability and adaptability: A qualitative study of COVID-19 lockdown experiences in two Henan villages, China
AuthorTan, X; Song, Y; Liu, T
Source TitlePLoS One
PublisherPublic Library of Science (PLoS)
University of Melbourne Author/sTan, Xiao
AffiliationSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsTan, X., Song, Y. & Liu, T. (2021). Resilience, vulnerability and adaptability: A qualitative study of COVID-19 lockdown experiences in two Henan villages, China. PLOS ONE, 16 (2), pp.e0247383-e0247383. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0247383.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access at PMChttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7906399
Background: The Chinese government’s early handling of COVID-19 has been perceived as aggressive and oppressive. Many of the most radical measures were adopted in Henan province, immediately north of Hubei, the pandemic’s epicentre in China. However, little is known about how rural residents—a group systematically disadvantaged in Chinese society—responded to authorities’ draconian restrictions. Methods: To understand the lockdown measures and rural community responses at the grassroots level, face-to-face interviewers were conducted with both village cadres and villagers from two Henan villages in May and June 2020. The interviews were analysed with qualitative content analysis methods, with the coding process guided by the concepts of resilience, vulnerability and adaptability from the literature on disaster risk reduction. Results: We found that the lockdown measures were indeed radical and disproportionate relative to the level of risk presented; however, they were largely accepted by villagers. This contradiction can be explained by two key contributing factors: (i) shared interests of individual villagers and the converged goal of government and civil society, and (ii) tacit flexibility in COVID-19 adaption strategies to tackle conflict resulting from goal diversion between citizens and local governments. Conclusions: These findings highlight the nuances of ground-level politics. Despite their ‘radical’ nature, the lockdown measures were not implemented as simple top-down coercion. Instead, they involved, importantly, the bottom-up, localised response of villagers, and they were negotiated and adapted according to local circumstances.
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