“People are going mad”. A disjunctive comparison of rituals of grocery shopping at the beginning of Covid-19 (March-June 2020)
At the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the act of loading shopping carts more than usual materialized as a sensible choice for most shoppers. Yet, stockpiling was constructed in parallel to the social pathologizing of so-called panic buying. Panic buyers emerged as supermarket “loose cannons” who seemed to create an “indecorous” spectacle out of what is usually considered an unremarkable act of everyday life. In this context, through the disjunctive comparison of experiences of grocery shopping in Italy and England, this paper looks at material cultures of preparedness and moral cosmologies of everyday consumption as they acquired social salience during the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic (from March to June 2020). The rupture of everydayness allowed to appreciate the ritualistic aspects of grocery shopping and highlight their role in the temporal, social and moral ordering of everyday life.
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