Workshop 1 / GRM 2021
Psychosocial Impacts and Social Policy Responses to the COVID 19 Pandemic in the Gulf Region

The COVID 19 pandemic has significantly caused profound social implications for the large majority of households, including children, youth, migrant workers, people with disabilities, older adults, women, and people exposed to gender- based violence. The consequences for the labour market and society are unforeseeable in their extent and duration. Welfare state institutions and social policies, which play a central role in ensuring social sec ...

The COVID 19 pandemic has significantly caused profound social implications for the large majority of households, including children, youth, migrant workers, people with disabilities, older adults, women, and people exposed to gender- based violence. The consequences for the labour market and society are unforeseeable in their extent and duration. Welfare state institutions and social policies, which play a central role in ensuring social security and stabilising the economy, face major challenges amid the = pandemic in the gulf region. The pandemic presents a unique “test” of the Gulf countries’ various institutional conditions and governance constraints. It presents an opportunity to explore institutional responses and coping mechanisms that might allow policymakers to improve service delivery. The COVID 19 pandemic also presents an opportunity for policymakers to examine which capacity deficits are truly structural and which might be overcome through a combination of technical assistance and political will. The workshop will bring a critical perspective to the social implications amid the pandemic in the region, as well as open lines of inquiry on this development among scholars from across the disciplines.

Objectives and Scope

As the pandemic finds its exponential phase in the gulf region, it is clear that the pandemic will have profound social implications for the large majority of households, including children, youth, migrant workers, people with disabilities, older adults, women, and people exposed to gender- based violence. The consequences for the labour market and society are unforeseeable in their extent

and duration. COVID 19 has significantly caused social and psychological impacts by causing mass hysteria, negative emotions (e.g., anxiety, depression and indignation) and has generated a plethora of psychiatric manifestations across the different strata of societies (Dubey et al., 2020). Theories such as behavioral immune system theory (John et al., 2013), stress theory (Norris et al., 2002) and perceived risk theory (Slovic, 1987), have indicated that, during health emergencies, people are likely to develop negative emotions (e.g., aversion, anxiety), negative cognitive assessments for self- protection, and avoidant behaviors and obey social norms strictly.

The success of national governments in combating the pandemic and its economic and social consequences depends on political factors and national institutions. Especially welfare state institutions and social policies, which play a central role in ensuring social security and stabilizing the economy, face major challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic strongly influences the duties of welfare state organisations ensuring fast access to welfare payments and offering extensive measures of job security. The pandemic might also change the goals, the design and implementation of social and labour market policies. Furthermore, it has consequences on the public services. While most processes of counselling and assistance were conducted on a face-to-face basis, the pandemic will result in new ways of communication and collaboration enforcing a trend to more digitised public services.

The pandemic presents a unique “test” of the Gulf countries’ various institutional conditions and governance constraints. It presents an opportunity to explore institutional responses and coping mechanisms that might allow policymakers to improve service delivery. It also presents an opportunity for policymakers to examine which capacity deficits are truly structural and which might

be overcome through a combination of technical assistance and political will.This workshop will provide a space for dialogue and discussion on current knowledge about the social and psychological implications of the pandemic in the gulf region; discuss state policies that attempt to address the challenges that face societies in the region, as well as the implications of the pandemic and government responses to COVID19.

 

Contribution to Gulf Studies

The workshop is designed to address several major deficits in knowledge regarding psychosocial implications of the COVID 19 pandemic in the Gulf countries.The workshop will contribute to the discourse on social policy responses to the pandemic and the role played by the welfare institutions amid the pandemic in the

Gulf region. The workshop also will provide a context in which to understand how the state and social policies can promote physical health, behavioral adjustment, well-being, social relationships, safety, cognitive development, and social security in the Gulf countries. The existing welfare state institutions play a major role in coping with the crisis. Protecting jobs and ensuring access to income support for those losing their jobs seem to be appropriate initial policy responses to deal with the crisis. The effectiveness and efficiency of social protection will vary across countries due to differences in the generosity of the welfare state and the specific institutional setting. Research and data to guide these efforts are lacking in the Gulf region. 

The workshop will bring a critical perspective to the social and psychological implications amid the pandemic in the region, as well as open lines of inquiry on this development among scholars from across the disciplines.

 

List of Expected Papers

The desired outcome of the workshop is the production of an edited volume: 

Towards that purpose, original contributions are encouraged from diverse disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, economics, political science, education, public health) and methodologies. The workshop welcomes research from across the humanities and social sciences— from the perspective of social and political theorists, psychologists, philosophers, cultural theorists, as well as from researchers in social policy. Theoretical and/or empirical contributions with a comparative and Gulf regional perspective are equally encouraged. The workshop welcomes research from across the humanities and social sciences—from the perspective of

social and political theorists, philosophers, cultural theorists, as well as from researchers in social policy. Papers can focus on a single country case or propose cross-country analyses.

 We encourage articles on these or other relevant topics, addressing but not limited to the following questions:

 

-    - What are the social and psychological impacts of the pandemic on households, children, youth, migrant workers, women, vulnerable groups?

-     - How have Gulf countries responded to the pandemic?

-     - What are the key factors that account for the variety of national responses to the pandemic in the Gulf region?

-     - How does the response to the pandemic affect the plight of social justice and social protection in the region?

-    -  How might the pandemic restructure, reshape, or challenge social policies or welfare regimes in the Gulf region?

-     - What gaps in service delivery (especially in education) and institutional capacities have been exposed?

-      - What inequalities are being highlighted by the pandemic and policy responses?

-       - What are the implications of the pandemic on vulnerable populations?

-       - How does the pandemic impact job security or unemployment?

-        - What is the role of social protection in mitigating the impacts of COVID-19?

-      - What will the region look like after the pandemic?

-       - What are the future social implications?

-       - What are the prospects for improved governance and regional solidarity?

-        - What steps should governments take today to ensure that lessons translate into better policies?




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Workshop

Directors


Dr. Anis

Ben Brik

Associate Professor -
College of Public Policy, Hamad Bin Khalifa University



Dr. Said

Aldhafri

Director of Social Observatory -
College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University



Dr. Humoud

Al Qashan

Dean of College of Social Sciences -
Kuwait University


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