Social Response to COVID-19 in New Zealand: Obligations and Stigmatization
Project Description

This proposed research will investigate two types of social responses to the COVID-19 threat in New Zealand (NZ): Institutional responses (i.e. Managed Isolation Quarantine service = MIQ service) and public responses (risk perception, communication, and reaction). This is the first time in NZ history that MIQ service has been established and operated by a joint force of several government and civil society organizations in response to a health hazard. The challenges of operating the MIQ service have not yet been evaluated; the way the operational bodies manage risk response, communication, and assessment, and infection control also remains untested; and the psychosocial effect of the quarantine and self-isolation practices on people affected also remains unknown. Therefore, it is urgent to conduct research on the effects and efficiency of institutional responses and related personal experiences. In parallel, the public response to COVID-19 has stigmatized certain ethnic communities as causing the COVID-19 outbreak, especially Chinese and other Asian communities, who have experienced discrimination as a result. Stigmatizing discourse in NZ news and English language social media has further entrenched racial prejudice and has created racial and ethnic tensions. The proposed research is founded on the importance of cultural and social solidarity as the key for NZ to battle COVID-19 and other infectious diseases; therefore, it is critical to address how NZ can develop containment measures that are culturally responsive and support our diverse populations.

The project is funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

Project Additional Info

This research will draw on sociology, public health, psychology and disaster research and use multiple methods to collect empirical data, including:

  • in-depth interviews with individuals who have been quarantined and/or self-isolated;  
  • focus group meetings with health professionals and key personnel from government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) who have been involved with the quarantine and self-isolation operations;
  • online survey and in-depth interviews within NZ Chinese and Asian communities to understand their risk perception, communication, reaction, and responses to how the media portray them and government messages related to the COVID-19 outbreak; and
  • content and discourse analysis of NZ news and English language social media on their presentation and interpretation of COVID-19.
Translational Perspective

The project looks at the humanity and social dimension of the pandemic.

Contact Infomation: First name
Contact Information: Last name
Contact Information: Position title
Senior Lecturer
Contact Information: Institutional affiliation
Massey University
Contact Information: Email address
l.liu2 [at]

Palmerston North, New Zealand