The Corona pandemic of 2020 is not merely a health crisis, as it has also severely affected the socioeconomic status-quo in countries hit by the virus. In the Netherlands for instance, political actors have set up security measures that have sizeable implications for the social lives of citizens. This thesis explores how the Dutch government constructs narratives of protection, and how these are used during the pandemic to legitimize measures in support of the political economy. This is supported by a review of literature pertaining to Beck’s conceptualization of risks and Foucault’s notion of biopolitical strategies. Depictions and dialogues of threats, protection or care in response to societal challenges should be critically questioned on account of their utility to the neoliberal project. With the aim of the discovery of, and reflection on, the narratives of protection in the communications of the Dutch state to the public, an extensive critical discourse analysis was performed. The protective roles taken up by the government in the communications were that of a ‘technocrat’, ‘parent’, ‘negotiator’, and ‘entrepreneur’. This thesis closes by emphasizing the political opportunism surrounding protective measures during the Corona pandemic, subsequently arguing for a transcendence past our conventional understandings of protection.

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Maja Hertoghs, Jess Bier
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

López Alberola, A. (2020, June 21). Public Enemy Number One: Covid-19. Sociology. Retrieved from