Pandemic Modelling and Model Citizens: Governing COVID-19 through Predictive Models, Sovereignty and Discipline

Tony Joakim Sandset*, Kaspar Villadsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Pandemic modelling functions as a means of producing evidence of potential events and as an instrument of intervention that Tim Rhodes and colleagues describe as entangling science into social practices, calculations into materializations, abstracts into effects and models into society. This article seeks to show how a model society evinced through mathematical models produces a model not only for society but also for citizens, showing them how to act in a certain model manner that prevents an anticipated pandemic future. To this end, we analyse political speeches by various Norwegian ministers to elucidate how various model-based COVID-19 responses enact a ‘model citizen’. Theoretically, we combine Rhodes et al.’s arguments with Foucault’s concepts of law, discipline and security, thus showing what a model society might imply for the model citizen. Finally, we conclude that although the model society is largely informed by epidemiological models and liberal biopolitics that typically place responsibility on individual subjects, sovereign state power remains manifestly present in the speeches’ rhetoric.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe Sociological Review
    Volume71
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)624-641
    Number of pages18
    ISSN0038-0261
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2023

    Keywords

    • Biopolitics
    • COVID-19
    • Foucault
    • Modelling
    • National sovereignty

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