Crises in Time: Fast- and Slow-Burning Crises in the European Union

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Crises differ in their intensity, rhythm, and tempo. In order to analyze crisis dynamics, connecting crises to timelines is important if we wish to move beyond crisis management and urgency as primary tools for understanding political action and societal responses. This chapter locates Europe’s contemporary crises in the intellectual history of European crises, and reflects on why crisis intensity, rhythm, and tempo matter for how we distinguish, understand, and attempt to govern them. The contribution provides a framework to distinguish how authorities and publics perceive “fast-burning” and “slow-burning” crises. Fast-burning crises are urgent, and understood as times when ideational and material resources have to be rallied around issues with high political salience, where publics expect policy action from authorities. Slow-burning crises differ in that they are linked to specific policy issues of concern but lack the pressing critical elements to be addressed within established political and business cycles. This leaves space for experts to develop frames and strategies for addressing the issues along different timelines. Distinguishing how authorities and publics perceive crises is important for understanding how they can be tackled with appropriate policy tools, as well as the likely political and socioeconomic effects of ignoring them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Time and Politics
EditorsKlaus H. Goetz
Number of pages9
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9780190862084
ISBN (Electronic)9780190862114
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesOxford Handbooks

Bibliographical note

Published online: 4 April 2019.


  • Crisis
  • Crises
  • Temporality
  • Expectations
  • European Union
  • EU
  • Demography

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