Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

‘The bubble’ as metaphor and COVID-19

Graham Davies, Sharyn, Long, Nicholas J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4088-1661, Holroyd, Eleanor and Appleton, Nayantara Sheoran (2023) ‘The bubble’ as metaphor and COVID-19. In: Cockerham, W.C., Jabe, J., Quah, S. and Ryan, J.M., (eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society. UNSPECIFIED. (In Press)

[img] Text (FinalEncyclo Bubbles30April2023[5]) - Accepted Version
Pending embargo until 1 January 2100.

Download (25kB) | Request a copy


The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated restrictions on public movement to reduce the spread of infection, and to help hospitals keep up with demand for care. ‘Stay-at-home’ orders were thus mandated across the globe. While different countries, and even different jurisdictions, defined these mandates in varied ways, they all restricted movement and socialisation. In Aotearoa New Zealand, other than in exceptional circumstances, such as grocery shopping or seeking medical care, people needed to stay in their ‘bubble’. ‘Bubbles’ referred to small, exclusive social networks. In many cases they constituted single households, but in some cases, especially as case numbers fell, they involved multiple households joining to form an exclusive unit. The bubble policy was incredibly successful in combatting the spread of COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand while still allowing isolated and vulnerable people to receive a degree of in-person support and care.. However, the fact that bubbles were comprised of households created difficulties for people with diverse and flexible living arrangements that were not easily accounted for in simple policy mandates. Given the diversity of households, combined with the effectiveness of the bubble system, forethought should be given about how to respond equitably to further pandemics.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 19 May 2023 14:33
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 10:20

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics