The Pandemic as a Rupture that Follows Rules: Comparing Governance Responses in India, USA, Sweden and Norway

In this article Kenneth Bo Nielsen, Siddharth Sareen, Patrik Oskarsson and Devyn Remme argue that ruptures in democratic governance contexts embody temporally discontiguous and country-specific patterns. They argue that these are conjunctures of particular possibilities for bounded reconfiguration, and that such reconfiguration can intensify or shift the course of what the state is becoming. 

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How a country responds to a rupture such as the COVID-19 pandemic can be revelatory of its governance. Governance entails not only the exercise but also the constitution of authority. The pandemic response thus presents a real-world disruption to verify or problematize some truisms about national governance and produce novel comparisons and insights.

In this article Kenneth Bo Nielsen, Siddharth Sareen, Patrik Oskarsson and Devyn Remme present a comparative analysis across four established democratic nation-states. First, they identify concerns of relevance for national pandemic responses and map them to state characteristics. Next, they conduct thematic analyses of recent ruptures in India, the United States, Sweden and Norway, to form a baseline of truisms about governance responses to frontier moments such as this pandemic, and hypothesize their relative propensities across the concerns. They then compile comparative data on emergent pandemic responses during the first 90 days of respective, temporally proximate outbreaks.

This combination enables the authors to link response characteristics to national propensities across the relevant concerns. They identify similarities and differences between what the pandemic responses reveal and the truisms of scholarship about the four countries state characteristics. Nielsen, Sareen, Oskarsson and Remme argue that ruptures in democratic governance contexts embody temporally discontiguous and country-specific patterns. They are conjunctures of particular possibilities for bounded reconfiguration. Such reconfiguration can intensify or shift the course of what the state is becoming.

They argue that in their cases it accelerates shifts to authoritarianism (India and the United States), raises stark questions of national identity (Norway and Sweden) and underscores tensions between the reemergence of welfare states and the global project of neoliberalism. By revealing what sort of rules show resurgence across ruptures, their comparative analysis deepens a timely understanding of punctuated politics of reconfiguration of authority.

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Published June 11, 2021 4:26 PM - Last modified June 11, 2021 4:26 PM