Pluralism and the Pandemic

Policy Responses, Trust and Solidarity

Looking at policy responses to the pandemic around the world, we see a broad range of experiences, but little information about long-term impacts of these approaches.

Liberal democracies have faced criticism for being slow to respond to the pandemic. They have had to build up and sustain public trust and cooperation while also curtailing civil liberties.

Authoritarian regimes have implemented draconian measures around surveillance, lockdowns and testing, while tightly controlling the release of data and research. Populist-nationalist regimes have used the pandemic to expand their powers, implementing new restrictions to free speech and ramping up divisive rhetoric about minority groups.

Troubling reports of a “toxic lockdown culture” have emerged in many countries, with reports of arbitrary detentions and police brutality. Simultaneously, solidarity networks have formed in many countries in response to the threats of the pandemic.

In this section, we aim to reflect on the impact of different political responses on public trust and on the social contract between citizens and their government. How will liberal democracies fare in their attempt to maintain public trust? How will minority groups be affected by lockdown measures and increasingly divisive rhetoric in more authoritarian and nationalist contexts? If and how will a sense of solidarity translate to the post-pandemic recovery efforts – will we see long-term systemic change emerge in places where trust and solidarity have been strengthened, or are these phenomena more ephemeral? In any case, what should inclusive, pluralistic policies in the post-pandemic recovery look like?

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