The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the crucial role of people's compliance for the success of measures designed to protect public health. Within the frame of Semiotic Cultural Psycho-social Theory, we discuss how the analysis of people's ways of making sense of the crisis scenario can help to identify the resources or constraints underlying the ways the citizens evaluate and comply with the anti-covid measures. This study aimed to examine how Italian adults interpreted what was happening in the first wave of the pandemic and how the interpretation varied in the period up to the beginning of the second wave. Diaries were collected for six months, from 11 April to 3 November 2020. Participants were periodically asked to talk about their life ‘in the last few weeks’. A total number of 606 diaries were collected. The Automated Method for Content Analysis (ACASM) procedure was applied to the texts to detect the factorial dimensions – interpreted as the markers of latent dimensions of meanings– underpinning (dis)similarities in the respondents' discourses. ANOVA were applied to examine the dissimilarities in the association between factorial dimensions and production time. Findings show that significant transitions occurred over time in the main dimensions of meaning identified. Whereas the first phase was characterized by a focus on one's own daily life and the attempt to make sense of the changes occurring in the personal sphere, in the following phases the socio-economic impact of the crisis was brought to the fore, along with the hope to returning to the “normality” of the pre-rupture scenario. We argued that, despite the differences, a low sense of the interweaving between the personal and public sphere emerged in the accounts of the pandemic crisis throughout the sixth months considered; a split that, we speculate, can explain the “free for all” movement that occurred at the end of the first wave and the beginning of the second wave.
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