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Believing, doing, existing in a pandemic

Croire, faire, exister en pandémie

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Published on Monday, January 10, 2022


La crise sanitaire que nous vivons depuis début 2020 a été la matrice de remises en cause idéologiques et politiques qui n’ont fait que s’accentuer avec la hantise de la contamination, l’angoisse des lendemains et le spectre de la catastrophe écologique. Ce contexte est devenu un catalyseur de nombreux questionnements sur des normes sociales acquises et participe au surgissement ou à la cristallisation de nouvelles formes de croire en lien avec de mobilisations sociales et politiques, individuelles ou collectives, dont la nature est très fragmentée. L’angle d’analyse de cet appel à contribution insiste sur l’imbrication entre des « croyances » et des mobilisations qui sont à lire de manière diachronique, sans oublier comment, dans des époques antécédentes, des mouvements similaires ont pu réagir face aux prémisses dramatiques de la société industrielle qui se mettait en place.


Journal des anthropologues


  • Barbara Morovich
  • Monique Selim


The health crisis that we have been experiencing since the beginning of 2020 has been the matrix of ideological and political questioning that has only become more pronounced with the fear of contamination, the anxiety about the future and the threat of ecological disaster. This context has become a catalyst for numerous questions about social norms and contributes to the emergence or crystallization of new forms of beliefs which are connected to social and political mobilizations, individual or collective, and whose nature is very fragmented. The angle of analysis of the present call focuses on the interweaving of 'beliefs' and mobilizations that are to be read diachronically, without forgetting how, in previous times, similar movements were able to react to the dramatic premises of the industrial society that was being set up. The word "belief" is to be understood here in a broad sense that is not relative to the religious aspect alone and refers to an "enigma", as Paul Ricoeur affirms, that of "holding-for-truth". It is notably a question of understanding the "modalities of assent" in a theoretical process (believing), but also practical (doing). This will also lead to describe the mode of beliefs between subjective and objective and their emergence. Generally recognized forms of belief (for instance, scientific) are now questioned by others, often called "alternative", characterized by the challenging of authorities (medical, media, political...) and their interpretations of reality, called mainstream. This proves first of all a crisis of expertise, or its trivialization opening to appropriations, to its democratization but also to its manipulation. Digitization and social networks are an essential vector of the questioning of the legitimacy of these self-proclaimed experts or ideological entrepreneurs, and of the birth of counter-expertise allowing everyone to express themselves in virtual places. However, at least in France, the validity of the scientific approach does not seem to be questioned in the majority of cases, and self-taught people influence numerous followers through theories related to health in particular, which they present as new and scientifically valid.

In other configurations, conspiracy theories refer rather to apocalyptic and collapsing visions or to holistic bricolages that are more specifically inspired by religion and are based on reactivated or invented forms of belief. Notably during the pandemic, these postures reflect doubts, fears and uncertainties, and indicate a desire to reinterpret reality. Moreover, they imply a will to individually acquire forms of power or to promote social revenge, linked to the declassification and exclusionary harshness of capitalist society and to the political, climatic and social crises. These three elements often coexist within these formal and informal groups that meet in physical and virtual spaces and contribute to changing them.

These approaches, which have great differences yet participate in the construction of individual subjects and collective arrangements, sometimes in life projects, notably neo-rural, "non-sheep", anti-pass etc. This also corresponds to new agricultural practices in connection with ecological communities or to groups fighting against the imposed development of a territory, the ZADs of alternative economies, but also experiences of local re-anchoring based on new ways of belonging. Other beliefs question the COVID-19 virus, vaccination or even the health pass and return to plant-based diet (reputed to be healthier), to alternative medicines, etc. The individualizing dimension would be more significant here than the collective enterprise.

The emergence of new holistic cosmogonies, although diverse, leads to new desires to be in the world: from mobilization, to the demand for citizen participation, to forms of withdrawal and total autonomy. It is through these new forms of believing and doing that subjects rethink their paths and sometimes become professionalized or politicized with the idea of a better coherence between their beliefs and their application to daily action. If the collective dimension, particularly present during demonstrations (yellow vests, anti-pass...) or mobilizations is plebiscited, the leadership is weak and testifies to the lack of a unifying ideology in front of subjective visions or collective projects with limited objectives. Indeed, the gap between these mobilizations and the balance of power, imposed by capitalism, remaining so huge. The importance given to signs, symbols, and bricolages strikes the observer and invites us to question the semantic richness of these movements that make abundant use of performance and media image. Currently, the stigmatization that strikes participants in opposite camps (for example, concerning vaccination and the health pass) contributes to the social fragmentation of affinity groups, age groups, and families: how do sociabilities recompose themselves around new forms of believing and doing and accommodate divergent thoughts? To which beliefs do they refer and to which subjectivities? How can these issues be linked to economic and professional logics? To what extent do these networks communicate? Are we in the presence of resurgences, inventions, new combinations? How do these groups and individuals question the instituted powers? What place does ideological bricolage have and how does stigma, through its ambivalence, participate in the organization/disorganization of these fields? Finally, what are the places of these new forms of believing and doing?

The scattering of the movements, their heterogeneous composition in terms of social classes, their internal contradictions which have led to talk of "confusionism", and the absence of a strong hierarchy, call for the social sciences and their varied tools. The contributions, based on empirical data, will focus on different types of social and spatial configurations, political and economic issues in the globalized world.

Terms of submission

Proposals for papers should include a title, an abstract between 2,500 and 4,000 characters and 5 keywords.

They should mention the full name of the author(s), their status and affiliation, as well as their e-mail address.

They should be addressed to the two coordinators and to the Journal:

  • Barbara Morovich : barbaramorovich@yahoo.fr
  • Monique Selim : monique.selim@ird.fr
  • Journal des anthropologues : afa@msh-paris.fr


  • Deadline for submission of article proposals: April 15, 2022

  • Response to proposals: May 2022
  • Publication: April 2023.


  • Friday, April 15, 2022


  • norme sociale, forme de croire, mobilisation urbaine, mobilisation rurale, pandémie, réseau social, négationnisme, conspiration, néo-ruralité


  • Barbara Morovich
    courriel : barbara [dot] morovich [at] strasbourg [dot] archi [dot] fr

Information source

  • Barbara Morovich
    courriel : barbara [dot] morovich [at] strasbourg [dot] archi [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Believing, doing, existing in a pandemic », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, January 10, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/17z6

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