Risk and the Transformation of Everyday Places and Spaces: Emptiness and Meaning-Making in Daily Life Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic Hazardscape

De Mond Shondell Miller, Nicola Davis Bivens, Rosalyn D. Harrington, Anita Bledsoe-Gardner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


During the COVID-19 pandemic, emergent geographies of empty space and its relationship to fears for one’s health and wellbeing have replaced our traditional understanding of social space with a risk calculus. While quarantine is the ultimate form of the preoccupation of risk, it also provides a connotation of diseased space versus safe space and who can or cannot enter exclusive spaces designed to protect others. The risk society thesis posits the emergence of a risk ethos, the development of a collective risk identity, and the formation of communities united by an increased vulnerability to risk (Ekberg, Curr Sociol 55:344, 2007). Ultimately, Beck’s (Risk society: toward a new modernity. SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1992) thesis of a second modernity asserts that "… the ethos of wealth creation that characterized industrial modernity has been overshadowed by an ethos of risk avoidance, class consciousness has been displaced by a risk consciousness and the increased awareness of living in an environment of risk, uncertainty, and insecurity has become a major catalyst for social transformation” Ekberg (Curr Sociol 55:344, 2007). This chapter offers perspective on the symbolic understanding of once populated spaces and places that are now empty spaces and places as stark symbols of the ubiquity of risk and emergence of a collective risk consciousness in geographies of risk. It illuminates how the transformation of common places and spaces into empty spaces present as a geography of risks “hazardscapes” in our lives while showing how the “language of risk” is understood in our daily lives in the grocery stores, public parks, and spaces, and in shared spaces to help us make meaning of our current reality and other realities (post-pandemic) to come.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCOVID-19 and a World of Ad Hoc Geographies
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783030943509
ISBN (Print)9783030943493
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Medicine


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