‘WE'RE ALL WATCHING EACH OTHER’: Dunedin Supermarket Workers and the 2020 Pandemic Lockdown





Supermarket workers, efface work, COVID-19, Aotearoa New Zealand, techne


Restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealand changed the space and sociality of supermarkets significantly. Personal management strategies such as handwashing, social distancing, and the use of facemasks transformed the lived experience of supermarket workers, making them a part of the emergency infrastructure of Aotearoa New Zealand’s public health response. This small qualitative study uses interviews and observation to explore the changing experience of work and self for five Dunedin supermarket workers as they performed their jobs, engaged in public health measures, and experienced the vulnerability of being understood as infection vectors within their homes and objects of heightened risk within their workspace. We use this data to discuss the social meanings of personal management strategies as efface work, the experience of solidarity within a community of fate, and as an alternative window on the ‘conquest’ of COVID-19, including the development of ‘techne’ of professional caregiving under duress and without public health training.




How to Cite

Buhler, M., Wardell, S., & Fitzgerald, R. P. (2022). ‘WE’RE ALL WATCHING EACH OTHER’: Dunedin Supermarket Workers and the 2020 Pandemic Lockdown. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 18(1), 103–123. https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-id497