CRC 1342 Advent Calendar

2 December 2020

Covid-19 Pandemic and Social Freedom

Frank Nullmeier examines the concept of freedom in times of a pandemic. He argues to reform public infection control and to then understand it as a social policy instrument that facilitates freedom in the first place.

Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier

During the pandemic, infection control measures by governments and administrations interfere with everyday activities that citizens are used to. These measures are often described by critics as harmful to the freedom of the individual as well as of society. But such a concept of freedom is not appropriate in the context of a pandemic, Frank Nullmeier argues. It is first and foremost the pandemic that violates freedom. We need to develop a concept of welfare state freedom that allows to understand state intervention initially as a reaction to a state of unfreedom.

Historically, public disease control is rooted in policing, and thought patterns of social law and the welfare state have not become firmly integrated. Frank Nullmeier therefore argues that public infection control should be reformed and given a social policy character, similar to the regulation of employment relationships (e.g. work and safety). Appropriate forms of governance, which also implies an institutional restructuring of infection control policy, must be based on the concept of welfare state freedom, guided by the concept of social freedom.

Frank Nullmeier's complete essay at the Theorie-Blog: Covid-19-Pandemie und soziale Freiheit (German only)

More about Frank Nullmeier's research at CRC 1342: Project B01 - Mechanisms of Social Policy Dynamics