Lars Erik Løvaas Gjerde (2020) From liberalism to biopolitics: investigating the Norwegian government’s two responses to Covid-19, European Societies, DOI:10.1080/14616696.2020.1824003Open access
In this text, I investigate the Norwegian government’s two responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, utilizing a Foucauldian discourse analysis. The pandemic forces us to ask questions about political leadership – about how successful political programmes appear to be, as well as the rationalities underpinning them. I will focus upon the latter and find the Norwegian government to have initially articulated a liberal rationality that was later replaced by a biopolitical one. The former entails perceiving the pandemic as a phenomenon to be handled through a laissez-faire approach, by leaving things free to run their natural course. The latter revolves around discarding this liberalism in favour of an interventionist approach that restricts freedoms and economic progress in favour of safeguarding the health of the population. I investigate the links between the laissez-faire discourse and the government’s initial hesitation, as well as the biopolitical discourse and the draconian measures and contradictions between these two approaches.