Social Cultural Change in The “New Normal”: An Ethno-phenomenological Study in a COVID 19 Early Infection Era in the City of Lusaka

Jason Mwanza, Omedy Mweene


The purpose of the study was to exhibit mental phenomena of insights into the enigma of life as experience it in form of meanings that are intentionally directed towards physical phenomena being COVID 19 measures on one hand and individual as well as collective behaviour in a COVID 19 early infection era in the City of Lusaka. An ethno-phenomenological study was chosen for this study. Data was collected using a transect walk using interviews and filed observations. Data was collected from (a) two markets in two townships and these are Matero and M’tendere and (b) two shopping malls and these are East Park and Manda Hill. Data analysis was done using an integrative approach comprising content analysis, van Manen's descriptive-interpretive phenomenological approach and Husserl’s phenomenological crystallization. The findings were organised under four themes which are determined a priori as social facts and these included (a) restriction of close personal contact – greetings (b) physical and social distancing (c) restriction of unnecessary public gatherings and (d) other measures. Verbal greetings dominated the new normal (AV.FR 5.8) From the prevailing culture in the City of Lusaka, it was not expected to have foot shakes and elbow bumps. These seemed to be permeating the new normal. The least mentioned social distance activity was working/teleworking ( AV.FR 1.3). Mass shopping and trading continued within the “new normal” (AV.FR 5.2). The findings tend to identify true differences based on affluence in terms of the elicited social behaviour following the prescribed expected behaviours of adhering to COVID 19 measures.  The conclusion of the study is that affluent people are more adherent to the prescriptions of the new normal than the non-affluent are. The affluent have adapted more to social change demanded by COVID 19 than the non-affluent. COVID 19 is a social force that has created social cultural innovation and cultural diffusion of practices from a distant place to Lusaka a locale. This is an opportunity for the government to consider embracing in an integrative way, the need to communicate to the public health effective messages that could bring about the expected social actions as well as health behaviours as doing so, would ensure the spread of communicable diseases in the future are minimised. Sociologists ought to rewrite the sociological history of social change by adding to the literature that colossal pandemic events, like COVID 19 though, bring about social cultural change instantaneously change and not over time as postulated in the current literature.

Keywords: new normal, COVID 19, social cultural change, social action, health behaviour

DOI: 10.7176/RHSS/13-12-01

Publication date:June 30th 2023

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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