‘The cure cannot be worse than the problem’: securitising the securitisation of COVID-19 in the USA

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Abstract

This article examines how the securitisation of COVID-19 in the United States was publicly contested. Reviewing the wider securitisation scholarship, it outlines five different kinds of contestation: securitisation failure, contestation within, counter-securitisation, the securitisation of securitisation, and desecuritization. Considering these within a discourse analysis of how COVID-19 was securitised and contested by both key political figures and protestors between 1 January 2020 and 30 May 2020, the paper finds that the securitisation of COVID-19 took two forms. One used war metaphors to represent COVID-19 as a ‘foreign enemy’ to be (quickly) conquered, while the other represented normality–everyday economic and social activity–as dangerous. The former saw efforts to desecuritize and ‘close’ the threat, while the latter was securitised as a threat itself. Ultimately, COVID-19 was downgraded to a manageable risk, while measures that recognised its continuing threat were depicted as existential threats to American lives, jobs, prosperity, and freedoms.

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APA

Kirk, J. (2022). ‘The cure cannot be worse than the problem’: securitising the securitisation of COVID-19 in the USA. Contemporary Politics. https://doi.org/10.1080/13569775.2022.2095762

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