Populations, Pandemics, and Politics
International Journal of Discrimination and the Law, Forthcoming
9 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2021 Last revised: 15 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 9, 2021
Discussions about social justice and governmental responsibility are often framed in abstract terms, referencing aspirational concepts such as “equality” or “autonomy.” While this is particularly evident in law, grand narratives also shape policies related to public health and welfare, as well as many other areas that overlap with law. Of specific interest in the context of this collection is the idealized rendition of the body that permeates these grand narratives. In law, as well as in political theory, philosophy, economics, and ethics, the body is abstracted to the point that its material realities and their implications for social policy can be conveniently ignored.
The pandemic has disrupted, even discredited, dominant political narratives, which minimized or ridiculed the need for safety nets and other social welfare policies. COVID-19 has forced a consideration of the inescapably and uncomfortably concrete into public consciousness, opening up the possibility for a revisioning of our thinking about both individual and societal requirements and responsibilities. Fortunately, vulnerability theory presents a constructive and needed alternative to the traditional paradigm for thinking about the nature of the state and its social institutions and relationships in this post-pandemic reality.
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