Terminology: "physical distancing" vs "social distancing"
From: David Jaggar (davidjaggargmail.com)
Date: Thu, 9 Apr 2020 13:13:30 -0700 (PDT)
I’ve felt uncomfortable using the term “social distancing” ever since it
suddenly began to have ubiquitous global usage once coronavirus became an
epidemic and then a pandemic. The constructive alternative phrase that I,
and now many others, have adopted is “physical distancing.”

Social distance means something along the lines of the extent to which
individual or groups are removed or excluded from participating in each
other lives. It just seemed to me social distancing was the last thing we
wanted in the context of isolation and shelter in place measures, and so
on. It is on these occasions that more than ever we desire social

(Then, in international sociology, for example, “social distance” has a
well-established more technical meaning, and is measured according to the
Bogardus Social Distance Scale, as a measure of separation from other
people or groups, and this meaning is searchable on the Internet for those

So within community and cohousing networks and elsewhere I’d like to
suggest dropping the term “social distancing” in favour of “physical
distancing” or some such equivalent.


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