The tyranny of distance: The social effects and practice adaptations resulting from Covid-19 lockdown rules

Emily Keddell, Liz Beddoe


This reflective commentary identifies and discusses the effects of the social distancing rules required by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowni. The rules required rapid adaptation that many found challenging, creating new norms for behaviour that were governed by both the state and many citizens. These rules changed patterns of social interaction, attitudes towards others and how families and communities were defined. Existing inequities relating to class were exacerbated, and inequities relating to gender and childcare made more visible. Those with more resources and secure jobs that could be undertaken “from home” were less exposed to the economic fallout and the virus itself. Attitudes towards the body and its physicality were heightened as the body became the target for intervention and isolation. Place-based communities of the neighbourhood were strengthened while other types of physical communities diminished.

All these changes created new opportunities for accelerating the morphing of people with the digital world, intensifying the use of online technologies to mediate the self, and shape employment practices, social work provision, and personal relationships. While some experienced this rapid transition online as a barrier to relationships, others, especially those already proficient in online technologies, experienced areas of improved functionality and efficiencies. Social work practice also adapted to this environment, finding new ways to meet the practice, support and ethical commitments of the profession.



Full Text:



Bourdieu, P. (1988). Homo academicus (P. Collier, Trans.). London, UK: Polity Press.

Collyer, F. M. (2015). Practices of conformity and resistance in the marketisation of the academy: Bourdieu, professionalism and academic capitalism.

Critical Studies in Education, 56(3), 315–331. doi: 10.1080/17508487.2014.985690

Dick, P. K. (1968). Blade runner: Do androids dream of

electric sheep? New York, NY: Doubleday.

Goldkind, L., LaMendola, W., & Taylor-Beswick, A. (2020). Tackling COVID-19 is a crucible for privacy. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 38(2), 89-90. doi:10.1080/15228835.2020.1757559

Lareau, A., Adia Evans, S., & Yee, A. (2016). The rules of the game and the uncertain transmission of advantage: Middle-class parents’ search for an urban kindergarten. Sociology of Education, 89(4), 279–299. https://doi. org/10.1177/0038040716669568

Parahi, C., Kilgallon, F., & Fyers, A. (2020). Coronavirus: There were two, quite different covid-19 lockdowns in New Zealand. Stuff. Retrieved from coronavirus-there-were-two-quite-different-covid19- lockdowns-in-new-zealand

Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA). (2020a). Moving practice online: Knowledge exchange for social service practitioners adapting to the covid-19 context. Wellington, NZ: Author. Retrieved from

Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA). (2020b). Better than before: Sustainable social service practice post-covid. Wellington, NZ: Author. Retrieved from than-before-sustainable-social-service-practice-post-covid



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.