During the Covid-19 pandemic, politicians, the media, and the public labeled frontline workers as heroes. The goal of this article is to examine how certain aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic—such as the nature of the Covid-19 virus, coupled with insufficient governmental and institutional responses—created a situation where it became possible for people to characterize healthcare workers as villains. This approach to medical professionals is rather novel in heroism studies and social sciences. A qualitative review of available data sources provided evidence that frontline healthcare workers were perceived negatively. Experiencing a lack of cooperation from patients and their families, healthcare personnel were forced to deal with institutional constraints that exacerbated these conflicts. Variables that could influence being villainized included the social value orientation and political persuasion of perceivers, as well as structural factors related to the transmission of effective and accurate information, including biased mass media presentations and genuine uncertainty from scientific sources.
Beggan, James K. and Allison, Scott T.
"Pressures to Comply or Defy: How Social Values Influence Perceptions of Healthcare Workers as Villains,"
Heroism Science: Vol. 8:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/heroism-science/vol8/iss1/2