COVID-19 - Coronavirus disease 2019

Trust in science and public institutions challenged by Covid-19 – CIESCO

Submission summary

How can we find the right words and arguments to convince the population to adopt behaviors that are healthful, not on an individual basis but in the name of the general interest?
The CIESCO project aims to understand the conditions of reception and acceptance of speeches made by government officials and scientists during the coronavirus crisis. The instructions to contain the epidemic require that the entire population re-appropriate them and accept to implement them. Some adhere to them and apply them, but others are more skeptical and transgressions can be numerous. Based on quantitative and qualitative materials, three lines of thought are privileged. A first axis of this project consists in exploring the link between the social characteristics of individuals and their ability to react differently to the injunctions of scientists and the communications sent by the State. A second set of questions focuses on the process by which public health messages end up being accepted or ignored. Finally, we will examine the effects of the occurrence of a "health crisis" in the context of a "public hospital crisis".
In order to capture the temporal dynamics of individuals' relationships with prevention messages, we will mobilize several surveys conducted at different points in time during the epidemic. A first questionnaire will be administered at the beginning of April through the "Constances" system, to find out about preventive practices and daily life in a period of confinement. The challenge is to be able to measure the evolution over time of practices and perceptions of the measures taken by the public authorities. A second statistical questionnaire will be mobilized and passed in June 2020, after the peak of the epidemic has occurred. The qualitative survey will be deployed on several fronts. One is devoted to hospital institutions and healthcare personnel. At the level of each structure, these "risk guardians" must, on a daily basis, arbitrate between the instructions issued by the authorities and the practical constraints they face. The second part consists of a localized approach to the reception of the epidemic, through two ethnographic surveys in two cities that were very differently affected by the virus: we plan to compare the case of Mulhouse, which was identified as one of the first major outbreaks of the epidemic, with a smaller city, Châteauroux, in a region that was less affected by the Coronavirus. The qualitative investigation will also aim to explore the relationship that religious communities and the faithful have with the State and the medical authority. It will look at how adherents and communities have perceived the risk of transmission of the virus, and government messages, especially when these conflict with religious practices, beliefs or values. The investigation will focus on the Catholic community and on Islam; in both cases, it will ask to what extent hygiene practices, gestures of solidarity or forms of sociability have been modified by this singular period.

Project coordination

Alexis SPIRE (Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux sociaux Sciences sociales, Politique, Santé)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IRIS Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux sociaux Sciences sociales, Politique, Santé

Help of the ANR 199,850 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2020 - 18 Months

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