How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected society?

August 27, 2021

Telemark Research Institute has mapped the various ways that covid-19 has affected us, ranging from the cultural sector and festivals to relocation from Oslo and digital meetings.


The cultural sector in the Nordic countries

One of the hardest hit sectors in the Nordic countries is the cultural sector. For large groups, incomes have been more than halved, with many cultural workers experiencing a great and increased uncertainty about the future work and income situation. The many comprehensive measures have been necessary and relatively accurate, but it has been a challenge that the measures have not been well-enough adapted to the conditions that the cultural sector works according to, both in terms of working conditions and income. There is reason to assume that cultural production will involve new combinations of analogue and digital dissemination.

Read more in the report “The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the cultural sector in the Nordic countries.


The consequences of Covid-19 for artists

Cultural researchers at Telemark Research Institute are currently working on an upcoming book about Norwegian artists’ career paths from 1999-2019. In 1999, 23 art students in music, theatre and visual arts were interviewed. The students, who attended the Theatre Academy, the Academy of Music and the Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo, told why they had started an artist career, and what thoughts and dreams they had about the future. In 2019, the same people were contacted again to investigate how it had gone. Based on Covid-19, most of these responded to a survey on the effects of the pandemic on careers and work situations. This forms the basis for one of the chapters in the book.


Cultural schoolbag and the cultural school in change?

It is well known that the pandemic has also affected everyday school life to a great extent. This has also gone beyond the ordinary, physical offer in The Cultural Schoolbag, with the offer having been digitized in several places. In a short time, digital productions have gone from being plan B to independent works. There are challenges with this, both related to technological competence and the fact that art via screen cannot fully replace the physical. One of the benefits is meeting young people in their primary arena for communication.

Read more in the report «Plan B? Digital dissemination offers in The Cultural Schoolbag (DKS) under Covid-19.»

The cultural school has also been digitized, with both students and parents largely answering that they wanted to return to physical education. It is nevertheless the case that digital teaching has opened up opportunities that were not previously available, with most of the principals who have been asked also open to using digital tools after Covid.

Read more in the report “No TikTok, digital didactics, please.”


Digital festivals

The parts of the cultural sector hardest hit are naturally parts in which physical participation from the public is important. Several have attempted to digitize the experiences, or parts of the experiences, such as the four festivals Amandusfestivalen, Digitale festspel 2020, Peer Gynt-stemnet and Litteraturdagane in Vinje. Far fewer people participate in digital festivals, and those who participate, see the scheme as an alternative in a special time rather than a substitute. The festivals seem to lose a dimension, in that the festival itself as an event is important, with several of the informants comparing the digital experience with a TV broadcast.

You can read the report “Festival production and experience during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Digital meetings

Many have also experienced that meetings have become digital, and in the new Municipalities Act, it is possible for meetings to be held as remote meetings. The use of this has been great in elected bodies in many municipalities and county municipalities, and it has been greatest in the largest and most central municipalities. Despite some technical start-up problems, the experiences have largely been positive. Despite this, it is seen as not very relevant to continue this as a standard, but rather use it in smaller forums and external meetings. This may  be related to the fact that digital meetings are less suitable for the political treatment of complex issues and a lot of dialogue. In addition, the survey indicates that several issues have been clarified to a greater extent in advance of digital meetings, which can be a democratic problem, as the political debate is moved out of the public space.

Read the report “Digital meetings in elected bodies.”


Representation of Ukrainian labour immigrants in Ukrainian newspapers

Telemark Research Institute not only looked at the national and Nordic consequences of Covid-19. An article will soon be published in the journal, East European Politics and Societies. The article deals with how Ukrainian labour migrants were portrayed in Ukrainian newspapers during the first weeks of the pandemic. Researcher Alexander Tymzcuk looks at how border control becomes a tool for combating the pandemic in the globalized world we live in, with the “safe” inside, separated from the “dangerous” outside.

A summary of the article can be read here: