1st Edition

State–Society Relations around the World through the Lens of the COVID-19 Pandemic Rapid Test

Edited By Federica Duca, Sarah Meny-Gibert Copyright 2024
    282 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    282 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The collection examines state–society relations during the COVID-19 pandemic, from governance at the outset of the pandemic to vaccine rollouts, via a series of case studies from around the world. With a focus on the Global South, the book includes chapters on the experiences of – Angola, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Jamaica and Indonesia as well as contributions from the Global North – on Sweden, Canada, Czech Republic and New Zealand.

    The collection demonstrates that the effects of the pandemic can only be properly revealed by looking at the regional and local contexts in which states and societies experienced it. Contributors examine themes such as the nature of contemporary democracy, state capacity, the legitimacy of state institutions, and trust in government, questions of social solidarity, and forms and impacts of inequality. Focusing on national (or sub-national) cases, each chapter analyses the underlying forces and structures revealed when the authority of the state is brought to bear on the agency of citizens under emergency conditions. In doing so, contributors embed analysis of pandemic governance in the historical context of each country or region, highlighting how political choices, histories of the state’s treatment of citizens and the orientations of a region’s elites shaped the actions taken by the state.

    The book will be of interest to those looking to understand how the pandemic was interpreted, accepted, or contested at the local (national or sub-national) level and to those interested in state–society relations more generally. It will appeal to scholars and students interested in questions of pandemic government from a social scientific point of view and especially to those interested in perspectives from the Global South.

    Introduction – A ‘Rapid Test’: States and Societies Through the Lens of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Federica Duca and Sarah Meny-Gibert

    Part I: Decentering the Pandemic

    1. ‘The Country's Problem Is Not the Coronavirus': Multiple Crises in Bolivia

    Alice Soares Guimarães

    2. Recentering the Necropolitics of COVID-19: A Perspective From Angola

    Ruy Llera Blanes

    3. COVID-19 and Non-State People: Uncompromised Wild Food Consumption in Binga, Zimbabwe

    Luzibo Ottilia Munsaka and Vupenyu Dzingirai

    Part II: Exclusion and Inequality

    4. Viral Contradictions: Canadian Exceptionalism and COVID-19

    Adrian Murray

    5. Unequal Pandemics: COVID-19 in Jamaica

    Doreen Gordon, Moji Anderson, Heather Ricketts and Michael Yee Shui

    6. Protecting the Vulnerable? COVID-19 Policy in Sweden

    Rebecca Rhodin and Johan Wedel

    Part III: State Capacity and Legitimacy

    7. Brazil: Tragedy and Political Choices in the Face of COVID-19

    José Maurício Domingues

    8. COVID-19 and Political Crisis: State Capacity and Defiance in Argentina

    María Maneiro and Diego Alejandro Pacheco

    9. Negotiating Ritual Life in Indonesia: State and Worship in Times of COVID-19

    Clotilde Riotor

    Part IV: Trust, Solidarity and Time

    10. Mutations of Democracy: Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response

    Monique Jonas, Naomi Simon-Kumar and Rachel Simon-Kumar

    11. Populist Governance in Times of Crisis: COVID-19 in the Czech Republic

    Jiří Kohoutek

    12. Rallying the Nation: Institutional Trust and South Africa’s Pandemic Experience

    Joleen Steyn Kotze, Narnia Bohler-Muller, Martin Bekker and Ngqapheli Mchunu


    Federica Duca is a senior researcher at the Public Affairs Research Institute and a research associate at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Her research focuses on state–society relations and the relationship between spatial and social forms in relation to wealth and privilege, as well as citizenship and the changing form of the nation-state.

    Sarah Meny-Gibert is head of the state reform programme at the Public Affairs Research Institute and is a research associate at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Her research interests are in civil service reform and its histories, the sociology of public bureaucracies, and state–citizen relations in the governance of public education.

    “The Covid-19 pandemic may have started as a health concern, but it rapidly affected broader state-society relations. In recognising this impact, this book provides a necessary and important reflection on how the pandemic was governed in 12 intriguing country case studies. It is an essential read for scholars interested in the governance of a crisis.” 

    Fiona Anciano, Professor of Political Studies, University of the Western Cape, South Africa