Since December 2019, life on earth has changed in so many directions for humans. Given the spread of COVID19 around the globe, almost half of the world went under lockdown. The economic and social order of the countries almost broke down. Now people of the world are adapting to the new normal and trying to get used to it.
This changing situation and the new normal has brought some unique challenges for us social scientists. Given the social distancing and imitated mobility, it is going to be difficult for us the social scientists to work under new normal. Because we collect data from people, and while doing fieldwork, we try to understand the body language of the respondents. Since everything is going to be done under lockdown and social distancing, it is going to be challenging for the researchers to adopt the new normal.
If everything remains under lockdown, then how the researchers can go outside and meet the people, they want to study and talk with them. Even if you possibly can go out how the people you want to study. Many countries have strict restrictions on going outside of their homes.
Social distancing is the key not to get infected with COVID19. Because if you are going into the crowed then meeting new people every day then there is a big possibility that you might get infected. This social distancing has brought the biggest challenge for us who conduct their research based on fieldwork.
Another challenge is the 'face mask' for the new normal. Because while the researcher is talking to the respondents, it is essential to understand their facial expressions. Besides, given the language differences and differences in accents, some researchers need to read the leaps. But they cannot remove the face mask because that increases the risk of infection.
Lack of Funding
Now the world economy is going under a lot of challenges and goes to economic depression. Many universities at home and abroad had to cut their budgets. This is why many students from countries like Global South will have to struggle a lot to get funding for their higher education and research.
Everything is Online
Now all the academic activities went to digital. In most of the third world developing countries, a lot of students do not have proper internet facilities. There are cases that many students cannot afford the cost of the internet. In addition, since academic institutions are closed, many students are residing in their homes. And there are hundreds and thousands of villages remained out of the internet coverage. Not everyone is privileged to have a good internet connection.
Lack of Human Interaction
Doing everything online and maintaining social distance, people are becoming alone. Now it doesn't matter being in the present. Because academic activities are recorded, and anyone can participate anytime on their computer. And there is barely any human interaction. This has increased the possibility that people are in depression.
From the above discussion, we can see that in the new normal, it will be very challenging for the researchers who work with people and conduct their research based on fieldwork. However, as humans, we are adaptive to everything. There have new research methods coming up to mitigate the challenges of the current situation. The pandemic has taught us a lot of things, and we will bring them to our post-pandemic life. This will help us to adapt to the new normal. Last but not least, we will have to maintain our human interactions; otherwise, in this current pandemic situation being under lockdown, we might become anti-social machines, who do everything in a computer.
What do you think? Do you feel the same way while conducting your fieldwork? Do you feel stuck? Do you miss the human interaction? Are you afraid of studying strangers?
*The author is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at Comilla University, Bangladesh, and Ph.D. Research Fellow at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University, Belgium. He is working on Election Violence in Bangladesh. He has a background in journalism, research supervision, teaching, and webinar hosting. He can reach him by firstname.lastname@example.org