COVID-19 - Coronavirus disease 2019

" Pull on the masks ?" Socio-economic study of face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic – MASKOVID

Submission summary

The purpose of the MASKOVID project is to examine, from a social science point of view, the contribution of masks as a tool to combat the virus, among other possible means. Covid-19 poses an unprecedented challenge in terms of health protection: in the absence of a vaccine and specific drugs, other ways of combating the disease must be found. Indeed, the pandemic imposes a detour through the development of a social therapy (distancing, containment, hygiene). Among the possible means of fighting the pandemic, the mask occupies an intermediate situation, between medicine and social behavior, since it is a medical object whose proper use and distribution must be established. The "good" use (or non-use) of masks, far from being limited to a simple understanding of the situation, involves the expression of information and sometimes divergent opinions on the epidemic and the means that can be mobilized, the configuration of housing, the greater or lesser need for exchanges, the gestures to be carried out, the availability of hydroalcoholic gel... and masks. The project proposes to address the social, economic and political issues raised by the use or non-use of masks, based on a very diverse set of data: calls for written and photographic testimonies, situated observations, data "scraped" from the Internet, classic and textometric studies of the daily press and other databases (patents, medical literature, etc.). We favor a "commando-like" approach, adapted to the containment situation, which will begin as soon as the project is submitted in order to grasp the situation "on the spot." The team brings together four partner UMRs (Armines in Paris, CERTOP and LISST in Toulouse, GREDEG in Nice) and seven experienced researchers specializing in the analysis of sociotechnical objects, all sharing the same analytical framework: Madeleine Akrich, Cédric Calvignac, Roland Canu, Franck Cochoy, Gérald Gaglio, Alexandre Mallard and Morgan Meyer. The project is organized in three parts: the first is devoted to the state of the art, methodology and coordination (shared data collection); the second divides the work into different field surveys: a historical analysis of the mask object and a socio-economic study of their marketing in the context of the Covid-19 crisis, a survey on the representations and uses of the mask in three types of key situations: confined homes, healthcare institutions, basic necessities shops; an ethnography of the manufacture of masks by the users themselves; a study of the controversy over the nature of masks and their usefulness. The third lot is devoted to dissemination. Contributors will promote their work to both the scientific community and civil society actors in the form of a book, scientific articles and other types of presentations.

Project coordination

Franck COCHOY (Laboratoire interdisciplinaire Solidarités, Sociétés, Territoires)

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.


GREDEG Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion
ARMINES Association pour la Recherche et le Développement des Méthodes et Processus Industriels / CSI
LISST Laboratoire interdisciplinaire Solidarités, Sociétés, Territoires

Help of the ANR 124,675 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 18 Months

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