The Academicians on Quarantine: Reflexivity and Fragility of the Privileged Group at the Start of Pandemic*

Daria Litvina, Anna Temkina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The goal of this article is to analyze the challenges faced by social researchers during the first months of the pandemic of 2020 when work-life issues were problematized and academic routine changed. The article is based on a dataset of diaries in which researchers with an academic background in social sciences and humanities were fixing their everyday life and reflecting on its changes. We explore why academicians, a relatively privileged group due to their possibilities of safe remote-working and maintaining professional obligations during the period of lockdown, experienced strong moral emotions related to work. We argue that basic references of space and time lost their routine structure, hindered work productivity, and threatened the “proper”, disciplined, and productive academic self. In their written narratives, participants of the project describe different emotional responses to this situation, with a focus on negative feelings including anxiety and guilt. The new reality was characterized by the layering of previously separated tasks at the same time and space boundaries, and therefore, in overload. At the same time, academicians were deprived of routine forms of face-to-face professional communications and networking. Academicians are oriented towards self-discipline and productivity, and self is produced via normative (self) evaluation and the juxtaposition with reference group(s). When the rules are changed, unstable, or constantly violated, it threatens the self. Moral emotions indicate this process until the new social order becomes inhabited and routinized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-65
Number of pages23
JournalRussian Sociological Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Academia
  • Covid-19
  • Diaries
  • Emotions
  • Pandemic
  • Scholars
  • Self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • General Social Sciences


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