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Ksenia Shepetina   1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Public Transport Passenger Categorization Practices: The Case of the Moscow Metro

2021, vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 111–137 [issue contents]
The paper is concerned with the social categorizations and perception of social diversity of the Moscow Metro passengers. Drawing on the Goffman’s theory, I assume that the interaction between passengers is based on categorization, which links appearance and behavior of people with their cultural expectations. The categorization allows to make interaction participants identifiable and accountable. In 2020 face masks and gloves, social distancing transformed the process of categorization having directly affected per-sonal front of city dwellers and situational proprieties. Using the theoretical resources of Erving Goffman, Harvey Sacks, and contemporary urban researchers, I compare how passengers of Moscow Metro recog-nized and defined each other under the regular circumstances and during the self-isolation regime, which was enforced by the city authorities at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study is built around three general types of “Others” that were developed as abductive notions: non-specific, specific, and stigmatized Others. I analyze how these types are situationally produced and to what extent they change when the localized interactional order undergoes significant transformations. On the one hand, this study is aimed at a detailed documentation of the unique socio-historical situation that occurred at an early stage of the pandemic. On the other hand, I use it as a “natural” breaching experiment that helps to reveal the basic elements of temporal and local specificity of the social order.
Citation: Shepetina K. (2021) The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Public Transport Passenger Categorization Practices: The Case of the Moscow Metro. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 20, no 4, pp. 111-137
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