The Social Construction of SARS
When the SARS virus began its spread from southern China around the world in spring 2003, it caught regional and international health officials by surprise. The SARS epidemic itself lasted for only a few months, whereas its treatment, in communicative terms, keeps providing us with important lessons that can prepare us all for the much larger pandemic that many are predicting will eventually occur. While the medical aspects of SARS are now relatively well understood, the discursive rhetorical dimensions are much less so.
As an international epidemic, SARS arrived in a number of distinctive societies with the result that different communities handled the crisis in different ways, some far more effectively than others. Accordingly, the 12 chapters in The Social Construction of SARS are studies of how a major health-related crisis was understood and dealt with from a communicative perspective in such diverse places as Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan, Canada and the United States during the SARS outbreak.