The COVID-19 pandemic has affected families around the world. Although the first official case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 22, 2020, the disease was present in China, and likely elsewhere, in December of 2019. Since that time, the coronavirus has spread to 188 countries/regions, with more than 4.3 million confirmed infections and around 300,000 deaths attributable to the disease (Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, May 13, 2020). As a result, governments have required cities, regions, and in some cases entire countries to “lock down” where only essential employees are allowed to go to work, leaving millions of families to figure out how to balance the competing economic and health demands associated with the disease while also facing physical isolation from extended family and support systems. Even as “lock downs” ease around the world, the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting, as families attempt to adapt to the changes and cope with the uncertainty that may characterize life in the foreseeable future. At the same time, families are resilient, often emerging from crises as strong, if not stronger than before, a process attributable to effective family communication.
The purpose of this special issue of the Journal of Family Communication (Volume 21, Issue 3 in 2021), co-edited by Katheryn Maguire of Wayne State University and Sylvia Mikucki-Enyart of the University of Iowa, is to highlight the impact of COVID-19 on family communication as well as on teaching, research, and practice. As such, we seek two types of papers: data-based and critical reflections.
Data-based manuscripts should shed light onto what communication issues are brought up by the pandemic--bound within and about the family--that would benefit from scholarly inquiry in the area. Submissions should be theoretically grounded and firmly center COVID-19 to illuminate how family communication affects, and has been affected, by responses to the pandemic. A wide array of theoretical approaches and topics are welcome, including but not limited to resilience/coping, maintenance, rituals/routines, dependent care (elder and child), home schooling, new/social media, information/health literacy in the family, work-life balance and division of labor, physical/psychological separation, end of life care, and privacy. For example: What are beneficial and detrimental communication practices between parents and educational institutions and, perhaps more importantly, is there variation across socioeconomic lines? How do families cope with loss when typical norms and rituals (e.g., funerals) are not possible during a pandemic? What is the role of family mediation in family members’ consumption of health-related media and how does this influence public health attitudes and behaviors? For those with job loss or owners of small business, what coping mechanisms were effective or ineffective for parent, children, and other family members? Given the disparities that have emerged as a result of the pandemic, we strongly encourage research by/about families at the margin, including families of color, immigrant families, and low-income families.
In line with the editorial policy of the Journal of Family Communication, we solicit data-based research that utilizes qualitative, quantitative, or critical methods from a broad range of fields (e.g., communication, family studies, health prevention and promotion, social psychology) in both face-to-face and mediated contexts in which family communication is the central focus of the study. All manuscripts should include a translational research section, which should be placed toward the end of the Discussion section. This translational section should provide several practical or social contributions or implications for audiences outside academia (e.g., preK-12 instruction, counselors, and social service agencies) as a way to apply the study results to “real” families or “real” family situations. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and should be no longer than 8,000 words, excluding references, tables, and figures. Author names and affiliations should not appear on the title page or elsewhere in the manuscript.
Critical reflections manuscripts should center on a pedagogical, theoretical, methodological, practical, or ethical problem or issue encountered by instructors, scholars, and practitioners as they dealt with the emergence and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical reflections should be as data-driven as possible, describe the problem or issue, and provide resolution to the problem or issue. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and should be no longer than 3,000 words, excluding references, tables, and figures. Author names and affiliations should not appear on the title page or elsewhere in the manuscript.
Authors should submit manuscripts to the journal’s electronic submission website, which is https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/hjfc. Each manuscript submission must include (a) a title page letter file that contains all authors’ contact information (including phone and e-mail addresses) and indicates clearly that the manuscript is submitted for consideration in the COVID-19 Pandemic special issue; (b) a manuscript file that is submitted in Word and contains the entire text of the article, including the title page with authorship omitted, the abstract, five keywords, all text, references, footnotes, and appendixes; and (c) any figure or table files, with each figure or table submitted in its own file. It is expected that the manuscript is not under review any other journal.