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Permanent crisis: sociologist explains how the feeling arises

Permanent crisis: sociologist explains how the feeling arises

Climate change, the war in Ukraine and the aftermath of the corona pandemic: the feeling of permanent crisis has rarely been as strong as it is now. Crisis researcher Stefan Kroll explains how it occurs and whether the world situation has actually become darker.

Mr. Kroll, we currently feel like we are in a constant crisis loop: climate catastrophe, war in Ukraine, energy crisis – and we have not yet recovered from the consequences of the corona pandemic. You and other experts even speak of a “polycrisis.” Are there really more crises than before?
I would rather say: There are definitely reasons for this feeling of crisis that is so stressful for many people right now. Wars and armed conflicts have actually increased again: If you look at the number of victims of global conflicts, we are currently back in the 1990s – that was the time of the great genocide in Rwanda. What is interesting, however, is that back then the concept of crisis was nowhere near as omnipresent as it is today.

Why is that? Are today’s crises putting more strain on us?
The direct impact is actually greater. During the Corona period, schools were closed, people lost their income, and the Ukraine war triggered an energy crisis. This is actually a new quality. In addition, threats such as the climate crisis are perceived as existential.

As a social scientist, when do you actually talk about “crisis”?
In a crisis, three factors come together: We experience a new threat with immediate pressure to act. There is also great uncertainty about how we should deal with the threat because the routines we used to have no longer work. There is also something else: a generally shared perception that this threat situation is actually a crisis. A good example is climate change: for a long time we encountered it primarily through the warnings of experts, but not on our own doorstep. That’s why there was no general awareness of a climate crisis for a long time – and little pressure to act. Things are completely different today…

Source: Stern

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