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Performing Crisis Management: National Repertoires of Symbolic Action and Their Usage during the Covid-19 Pandemic in Europe

Abstract : The role of the symbolic is often overlooked in the public policy literature. Yet, it is a key component of public action, particularly in crisis management. During the Covid-19 pandemic, all democratic states needed to carry out cognitive and emotional work to persuade their citizens to show solidarity and comply with heavy restrictions. The near-simultaneous occurrence of the pandemic’s first wave (March–May 2020) allows us to compare the patterns of symbolic crisis management across four European countries (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom). Our analysis finds significant variation in governments’ usage of the symbolic. We analyse leaders’ performances (wordcraft and stagecraft) as they try to reassure citizens, unite the nation, and legitimise themselves and their decisions. Our article shows not only that national leaders pay great attention to the symbolic in the management of crises, but also that their performances differ systematically in line with their personas and distinct national political cultures.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 14, 2021 - 12:04:06 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 1, 2022 - 3:47:44 AM

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Laurie Boussaguet, Florence Faucher, Christian Freudlsperger. Performing Crisis Management: National Repertoires of Symbolic Action and Their Usage during the Covid-19 Pandemic in Europe. Political Studies, Wiley-Blackwell: No OnlineOpen, 2021, ⟨10.1177/00323217211058305⟩. ⟨hal-03479373⟩

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