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Departmental Seminar - Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 and Informal Social Control in an Urban Setting: The Case of Hong Kong

23 January 2024 at 7:00:00 am

Many strategies for preventing and containing the spread of COVID-19 require wide-scale public cooperation backed by informal social control. Yet, fear of infection may motivate or impede individuals’ willingness to intervene when they observe others flouting the rules. This study aims to evaluate how the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 in the immediate residential setting influences an individual’s willingness to exercise informal social control in the neighborhood, measured by an index composed of two self-reported behavioral variables. Using longitudinal household survey data before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong, respondents were linked to confirmed cases of COVID-19 through spatiotemporal information to measure their risk of exposure to COVID-19. The findings show that risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the immediate residential settings had detrimental effects on informal social control, and that this relationship was mediated by neighborhood social cohesion, which declined due to the interruption of social life and community activities. Our findings reveal how the pandemic could affect the social behavior of residents and neighborhood dynamics.

About the speaker:

Xiaogang Wu is Professor of Sociology and Yufeng Global Professor of Social Science at New York University and NYU Shanghai. He is the Founding Director of the Center for Applied Social and Economic Research (CASER) at NYU Shanghai. From 2003 to 2020, he taught at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where he was Chair Professor of Social Science and Public Policy. Prof. Wu is a leading expert in research on Chinese inequality and social stratification (including Hong Kong) and has authored more than 70 peer-reviewed journal articles. He led/co-led numerous panel data collection projects, such as Beijing College Student Panel Survey (BCSPS, 2009-2013), Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics (HKPSSD, 2011-2021), Shanghai Urban Neighborhood Survey (SUNS) (2017-2019), and most recently, Life Experience and Community during the COVID-19 in the United States (LECC-US, 2021-2023). His projects have received funding support from prestigious institutions such as US National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Health (NIH), European Research Council (ERC), as well as the Hong Kong RGC- Collaborative Research Fund (CRF). Wu has been the editor-in-chief of the Chinese Sociological Review since 2011. In 2022, he was elected to a member of Sociological Research Association (SRA), an honor society to recognize leading researchers in sociology.

Departmental Seminar - Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 and Informal Social Control in an Urban Setting: The Case of Hong Kong

Date: 23 January, 2024

Time: 3:00PM – 4:30PM

Venue: CJT-9.29

Speaker: Prof. Xiaogang Wu


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