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Inequalities, Community Resilience and New Governance Modalities in a Post-Pandemic World

Governance in times of crisis: (De-)Mobilization of Locked down and Vaccinated Publics


  • Historicise and compare governance responses to the pandemic;

  • Examine the interaction between (de)mobilisation at state and society levels with the drivers of inequality;

  • Analyse the influence of government leadership during crises, particularly with respect to its interaction with resistance from civil society.

This cluster investigates the interaction of state and society during crises, drawing on themes of (de)mobilisation to examine lockdowns in comparative perspective. State responses to earlier crises, such as World Wars and the Great Depression, helped mitigate the inequalities of capitalism, particularly in the global north. But they did so in conjunction with the mobilisation of social movements, representative parties and trade unions, which were features of wartime and Depression-era politics. The pandemic, by contrast, has emerged against a backdrop of rising individualism, “post-democracy” and the weakening of representative politics, all of which proved breeding grounds for populist backlashes. Lockdown seems to accelerate trends to isolation and fragmentation; equally, opposition to lockdown, exhibited by leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro, has taken the form of libertarian or laissez faire ideology. This has limited the space for collectivist responses.

Focusing on governance practices in the case of Covid-19 crisis, in this Cluster we investigate pandemic control: the capacity of governments and international organizations; political accountability of measures taken (e.g., lockdowns, curfews); consequences on democratic governance, freedoms and rights; and political leadership in times of crisis. Drawing on comparative methods of political science and historical sociology, and examining governance at micro, meso and macro levels, we will thus undertake the following comparative case studies:

  1. “Lockdowns: An International Comparison”. Lockdown policies varied intensely across countries and within them.This sub-work package will undertake a comparative analysis of policies, perceptions, and lockdown effects on a transatlantic scale. It will pay particular attention to how these varying responses have impacted on inequalities of class, race, gender, disability and other facets of social injustice. It will also address the varieties of modes of legitimising restrictions on civil liberties. (Responsible: All partners)

  2. “Historicising Lockdowns”. This case study uses the methods of historical sociology to trace the antecedents to the lockdowns, to understand how systematic state control interacts with the drivers of social (in)equality. Comparisons will be undertaken with government mobilisations for warfare (including civil wars/revolutions), and with prior experiences of disease management such as the flu 1918 pandemic and the 2002-4 SARS outbreak. The intention is to track how state-led (de)mobilisation interacts with contestation from social movement and civil society mobilisation in crisis situations. (Responsible: GCU)

  3. “The Contested Geopolitics of Vaccinations”. Access to and the administration of vaccines have been the object of deep conflicts during the pandemic. This case study examines the geopolitics of vaccination programmes, focusing specifically on the role of the WHO as a coordinator of the world’s effort to have a quick response and the COVAX Facility which guarantees immunization to poorer countries. The aim is to understand how domestic responses are shaped by international inequalities of wealth and power. (Responsible: All partners will provide data, comparative analysis by UNICAMP)

  4. “Typologies of Leadership”. In this sub-cluster we hypothesize that leadership counts, and will propose a typology of leadership, based on actions and public discourses of “populist”, “technocratic”, “democratic” and “authoritarian” leaders, and relate these types to the consequences of the pandemic in terms of incidence and death rates, inequalities and social vulnerabilities. Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Jair Bolsonaro, Emmanuel Macron, Iván Duque Márquez and others have adopted distinct approaches to the fight against the disease and its consequences, and some have changed their understanding along the way, while others did not. (Responsible: All partners will provide data, typology development by IRMO, UH, FU Berlin)

  5. An academic workshop (aiming a special issue/edited volume) on the topic covered by this cluster will be organized.


Team members working in Cluster I

James Foley (Co-Leader)

Senada Šelo Šabić (Co-Leader)

Leandro R. Tessler

Marina Fontolan

Giuseppe Cocco

Carolina Salomão

Milena Pavan Serafim

Claudiana Guedes de Jesus

Daniela Pinheiro

Rafael Dias

Erica da Cruz Novaes Gonçalves Dias

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