Obedience in times of covid-19 pandemics: A renewed governmentality of unease?

Didier Bigo, Jean Monnet, Elif Mendos Kuskonmaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This article transects and articulates different disciplines and lines of thought in order to understand the redefinitions of the boundaries of political power in times of COVID-19, and the practices which may outlive the potential normalisation of the crisis when an efficient vaccine is discovered. We claim that the COVID-19 pandemic is an original form of governmentality by unease articulating three dimensions. First, the basic reaction of modern states when faced with uncertainty is to apply national-territorial logics of controls. Second, bureaucracies consider the virus as a danger to security and organise public health emergencies according to the rules of the game of national security, creating tensions between internal security, public health and the economy because policymakers may be unsure about the priorities and may prioritise border controls. Third, resistance against the chosen national policies show that people are not led by a politics of fear and/or protection, but rather their own concerns about themselves with peer-to-peer surveillance as a key element of their compliance. Contact tracing technologies and strategies of border controls are key elements to analyse. We do so in different contexts: the UK, the EU and Turkey.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-489
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal Discourse
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Border closures
  • Border control strategies
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Digital contact tracing
  • Governmentality by unease


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