Citizenship in times of crisis: biosocial state–citizen relations during COVID‑19 in Austria

Isabella Radhuber, Christian Haddad, Katharina Kieslich, Katharina Theresa Paul, Barbara Prainsack, Seliem El-Sayed, Lukas Schlögl, Wanda Spahl, Elias Weiss

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed

Abstract

Drawing upon 152 in-depth qualitative interviews with residents in Austria carried out in the first year of the pandemic, this article discusses how people’s experiences with COVID-19 policies reflect and reshape state–citizen relations. Coinciding with a significant government crisis, the first year of COVID-19 in Austria saw pandemic measures justified with reference to a biological, often medical understanding of health that framed disease prevention in terms of transmission reduction, often with reference to metrics such as hospitalisation rates, etc. Instead of using this biomedical frame, our interviewees, however, drew attention to biopsychosocial dimensions of the crisis and problematised the entanglements between economy and health. We call this the emergence of a biosocial notion of citizenship that is attentive to psychological, social and economic dimensions of health. Insights into the biosocial nature of pandemic citizenship open a window of opportunity for addressing longstanding social injustices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-351
Number of pages26
JournalBioSocieties
Volume19
Issue number2
Early online date22 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 506001 General theory of the state
  • 506010 Policy analysis

Keywords

  • State–citizen relations; Biosocial citizenship; COVID-19; Pandemic policies; Austria; Qualitative interviews
  • COVID-19
  • Austria
  • Pandemic policies
  • Qualitative interviews
  • State–citizen relations
  • Biosocial citizenship

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