What Does Contact Tracing Really Mean? How Governments and Citizens Contest the Meaning of Contact Tracing through Sociomaterial Practices to Achieve Societal Resilience

Posted: 3 Feb 2021

See all articles by Semi Min

Semi Min

New York University, Department of Information, Operations, and Management Sciences, Students

Hila Lifshitz-Assaf

Harvard University - Business School (HBS); New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Natalia Levina

New York University

Date Written: February 2, 2021

Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic, contact tracing has become part of government efforts to achieve societal resilience. The notion of societal resilience encompasses not only public health and safety of the population, but also the preservation of civil rights and liberties. Many societies have contested the meaning of contact tracing as it exacerbated a tension between public health and civil rights and liberties. In this study, we investigate how two specific societies with some similarity (South Korea and Singapore) worked out the meaning of contact tracing technologies in striving to achieve societal resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. We draw on category research to shed light on the contestation process. We unpack the relationship between what is the meaning of contact tracing (symbolic boundaries), who is involved in it (social boundaries) and how it is materialized through specific actions and technologies (sociomaterial practices). This study contributes to category research by unpacking the role of sociomaterial practices in the emergence of a new category. It contributes to our understanding of digitally-enabled societal resilience by showing how the battle over the categorization of practices surrounding new digital technologies reflects the deeper battle over societal values worth preserving in the face of threat.

Keywords: Societal resilience, new technology, category research, social boundaries, symbolic boundaries, sociomaterial practice, COVID-19 pandemic

Suggested Citation

Min, Semi and Lifshitz-Assaf, Hila and Lifshitz-Assaf, Hila and Levina, Natalia, What Does Contact Tracing Really Mean? How Governments and Citizens Contest the Meaning of Contact Tracing through Sociomaterial Practices to Achieve Societal Resilience (February 2, 2021). NYU Stern School of Business Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3777941

Semi Min (Contact Author)

New York University, Department of Information, Operations, and Management Sciences, Students ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Hila Lifshitz-Assaf

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Cotting House 321A
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Natalia Levina

New York University ( email )

44 West Fourth Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~nlevina

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
377
PlumX Metrics