Books / coronavirus

Building a better world post-pandemic

By lowie trevena, Monday Jul 27, 2020

A new book explores what the world could look like after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Featuring expert authors from all walks of life and edited by University of Bristol professor Martin Parker, Life after COVID-19 looks at how all people can live a better life post-coronavirus.

Martin Parker, professor of organisation studies with a focus on alternative economies, together with more than 30 individuals from Bristol and beyond, write about a range of issues relating to the pandemic in the new book published by the Bristol University Press.

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“All our lives have changed this year, because of something which is 120 billionths of a metre in size,” says Martin. “Despite the death and suffering, and the clear evidence of inequalities, many of these changes have been positive.”

From reduced car and plane use and to cooking more at home to grassroots community support and learning new skills, Martin wanted to explore the idea of what people really need and what needs to change and stay the same, even when the pandemic has passed.

Asking people he knew from academia and civil society to submit short essays about the possibility of a better future post-coronavirus, Martin found that many were feeling that Covid-19 was a chance to stop and reset.

Martin Parker is a professor of organisational studies at the University of Bristol. Photo: Schnell Photography

“I want people to read this book and realise that we can change the world if we want to,” says Martin. “We have been told repeatedly that things are the way they are and that there is no magic money tree, but in March and April of this year we saw very quick political action to keep the country running.”

The book covers topics such as transport, nature, housing, activism, social media and university.

Authors featured in Life After COVID-19 features essays from Harriet Shortt from UWE Bristol, who writes about organizational space and the materiality of work, Hen Wilkinson, a director of Bristol-based Community Resolve, Hugo Gaggiotti, a social anthropologist who works at Bristol Business School at UWE Bristol, who writes about displacement in organisations and Anita Mangan from the University of Bristol and researches co-operatives as alternatives to austerity and precarious work.

Hen Wilkinson penned an essay for the new book. Photo: Community Resolve

“What happens to city centres if we use them less?,” asks Martin. “Can the empty retail and office blocks become spaces for apartments, repopulating the city centres? What sorts of transport might we need, if the nine to five commute is no longer a routine? What sorts of housing, schooling and care might help people work successfully from home, or local workspaces?

“As soon as we begin to change one element of our lives, all the other assumptions need to change too. This is the opportunity that the little virus has given us.”

Main photo: Joab Smith

Read more: ‘When Bristol’s staff return to work, do not be preoccupied with productivity’

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