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Pandemics, Politics, and Society

Critical Perspectives on the Covid-19 Crisis

Edited by: Gerard Delanty

This volume is an important contribution to our understanding of global pandemics in general and Covid-19 in particular. It brings together the reflections of leading social and political scientists who are interested in the implications and significance of the current crisis for politics and society.

The chapters provide both analysis of the social and political dimensions of the Coronavirus pandemic and historical contextualization as well as perspectives beyond the crisis. The volume seeks to focus on Covid-19 not simply as the terrain of epidemiology or public health, but as raising fundamental questions about the nature of social, economic and political processes. The problems of contemporary societies have become intensified as a result of the pandemic. Understanding the pandemic is as much a sociological question as it is a biological one, since viral infections are transmitted through social interaction. In many ways, the pandemic poses fundamental existential as well as political questions about social life as well as exposing many of the inequalities in contemporary societies. As the chapters in this volume show, epidemiological issues and sociological problems are elucidated in many ways around the themes of power, politics, security, suffering, equality and justice.

This is a cutting edge and accessible volume on the Covid-19 pandemic with chapters on topics such as the nature and limits of expertise, democratization, emergency government, digitalization, social justice, globalization, capitalist crisis, and the ecological crisis.


Notes on Contributors


Gerard Delanty
1. Introduction: The Pandemic in Historical and Global Context

Part 1 Politics, Experts and the State

Claus Offe
2. Corona Pandemic Policy: Exploratory Notes on its ‘Epistemic Regime’

Stephen Turner
3. The Naked State: What the Breakdown of Normality Reveals

Jan Zielonka
4. Who Should be in Charge of Pandemics? Scientists or Politicians?

Jonathan White
5. Emergency Europe after Covid-19

Daniel Innerarity
6. Political Decision-Making in a Pandemic

Part 2 Globalization, History and the Future

Helga Nowotny
7. In AI We Trust: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Pushes us Deeper into Digitalization

Eva Horn
8. Tipping Points: The Anthropocene and COVID-19

Bryan S. Turner
9. The Political Theology of Covid-19: a Comparative History of Human Responses to Catastrophes

Daniel Chernilo
10. Another Globalisation: Covid-19 and the Cosmopolitan Imagination

Frédéric Vandenberghe & Jean-Francois Véran
11. The Pandemic as a Global Total Social Fact

Part 3 The Social and Alternatives

Sylvia Walby
12. Social Theory and COVID: Including Social Democracy

Donatella della Porta
13. Progressive Social Movements, Democracy and the Pandemic

Sonja Avlijaš
14. Security for Whom? Inequality and Human Dignity in Times of the Pandemic

Albena Azmanova
15. Battlegrounds of Justice: The Pandemic and What Really Grieves the 99%


  • Book on the Covid-19 pandemic, chapters by leading social and political scientists
  • Raises crucial questions about the nature of social, economic and political processes
  • Directly relates to uni courses on pandemics, global risks and mega-hazards

Author Information

Gerard Delanty, Professor of Sociology, University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom.

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Audience: Scholars and students of Sociology and Political Science, as well as interested laypeople