The political is medical now: COVID-19, medicalization and political theory

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Virtually our entire existence became medicalized in the spring of 2020. How we worked, shopped, washed, loved had suddenly been transformed into actions with a profound impact on our own health as well as the health of our nations, essentially into matters of life and death. Medicalization is obviously not a new phenomenon; many of the activities just mentioned have been subject to medical expertise and language. Yet the intensity and scope of the medicalization we are experiencing now is novel – at least in terms of recent history. Most of us had not experienced what it is like to have our public and private lives framed in terms of medicine. In some ways, now we share what was already the reality of many chronically ill people. This medicalized reality unavoidably has profound ramifications for our politics. This essay sketches out the political consequences of the medicalization that the coronavirus has unleashed, drawing on examples from the UK and the US. I do so by focusing on four themes: political discourse, political change, political emotions, and democratic citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S-61-S-75
Number of pages16
JournalTheory and Event
Issue number4 (Suppl)
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2020

Structured keywords

  • Covid19


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