COVID-19 and ‘the public’: UK government discourse and the British Political Tradition

Finlayson, Alan ORCID:, Jarvis, Lee ORCID: and Lister, Michael (2023) COVID-19 and ‘the public’: UK government discourse and the British Political Tradition. Contemporary Politics. ISSN 1356-9775

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This article presents an original analysis of the UK government’s discursive response to COVID-19 across the first six months of the pandemic. Two arguments are made. First, representations of the state/people relationship were vital to the state’s storying and selling of its response to this crisis. And, second, despite populist-style inflections, the state/people relationship was typically constructed around a ‘government knows best’ claim associated with the ‘British Political Tradition’ (BPT). In making these arguments the article offers three contributions: (i) empirical, via an original thematic analysis of over 120 speeches, statements and documents from the UK government; (ii) analytical, via a new taxonomy of ways in which ‘the public’ is imagined and represented in political discourse; and, (iii) theoretical, via conceptualisation of the flexible and adaptive discourse of the BPT.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: british political tradition,british politics,covid-19,crisis,discourse,rhetoric,sociology and political science,political science and international relations ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3312
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Political, Social and International Studies
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2022 13:30
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2023 09:30
DOI: 10.1080/13569775.2022.2162206

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