To app or not to app? Understanding public resistance in using Covid-19 digital contact tracing

Time period: December 2020 – July 2021

Description: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, contact tracing apps have been developed and released in several countries as an additional measure to combat COVID-19, speeding up the tracing of contacts of people found to be infected. These apps are generally based on practical hardware technologies, so basically anyone with a smartphone can use and implement their use. In practice, however, these types of apps lack sufficient real-life testing, which is problematic as their effectiveness, regardless of the technology used, depends as much as on socio-behavioural factors, such as public confidence and trust in the protection of privacy. Indeed, existing studies point to growing public resistance to such apps. Yet, there is limited sociological and criminological insight into the mechanisms underpinning this resistance. This study relies on an interdisciplinary approach bringing together criminological and computational expertise to unpack this issue from a novel standpoint, unravelling key social dynamics underpinning people’s resistance to the NHS contact tracing app across England and Wales.

Web Science Institute Research Collaboration Fund.

Research Team: Anita Lavorgna (PI), Pamela Ugwudike, Les Carr, Yadira Sanchez Benitez, Gopala Saisie Rekha (University of Southampton)

Contact: Anita Lavorgna (A.Lavorgna@soton.ac.uk)