Precarious Sovereignty in a Post-liberal Europe: The COVID-19 Emergency in Estonia and Finland

23 Oct 2020

(Chinese Political Science Review) Abstract: The paper addresses a puzzle resulting from the current global state of alert: the coronavirus pandemic brought us back to the world of the allegedly sovereign nation states with borders and national governments in charge, yet in fact, this retrieved sovereignty looks very vulnerable and precarious. We explain this controversy through a triad of concepts—sovereignty, governmentality, and post-liberalism—that we apply to an analysis of a corona-imposed state of emergency in Estonia and Finland. Based on comparative case study research, we posit that sovereignty is precarious in post-liberalism due to its large dependence on the technologies of responsibilization and agency. From a biopolitical perspective, a major point in the anti-crisis management is to convince people to sacrifice personal liberties for the sake of public safety. These issues of governmentality will be dealt with based on critical discourse analysis and media analysis in Estonia and Finland.

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Co-author: Tatiana Romashko