Governmentality versus Community: The Impact of the COVID Lockdowns

Claire Wallace* (Corresponding Author), Lucia Mytna-Kurekova, Margarita Leon, Jacqueline O'Reilly, Constantin Blome, Margarita Bussi, Becky Faith, Mark Finney, Janine Leschke, Chiara Ruffa, Emma Russell, Mi AhSchøyen, Matthias Thurer, Marge Unt, Rachel Verdin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The COVID lockdowns were characterised by new forms of governmentality as lives were disrupted and controlled through the vertical transmission of biopolitics by the state. The paper considers how this was experienced by academics in 11 different countries through analysis of diaries written
during the first lockdown. The paper asks if communities can offer an alternative to governmentality by looking at three levels: the national, the neighbourhood and the personal. Whilst at a national level the idea of community was instrumentalised to encourage compliance to extraordinary measures, at the local level community compassion through helping neighbours encouraged
horizontal connections that could offer a “space” within the dominant logic of governmentality. At the level of personal communities, the digitalisation of social relationships helped to create supportive networks over widely dispersed areas but these were narrowly rather than widely focused, avoiding critical discussion. The research contributes to the understanding of COVID lockdowns on community wellbeing and the limitations of the governmentality approach. It
suggests that the mobilisation of community activity can be a response to emergencies, but that the digital connections need to be activated in addition to conventional ones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-240
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Community Well-Being
Early online date9 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • community participation
  • community well-being
  • governance
  • technology and wellbeing


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