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Crisis and society: developing the theory of crisis in the context of COVID-19

Walby, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-9696-6947 (2022). Crisis and society: developing the theory of crisis in the context of COVID-19. Global Discourse, 12(3-4), pp. 498-516. doi: 10.1332/204378921x16348228772103


The theory of crisis and society is advanced by developing a complex systems analysis and is applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Five issues are identified, discussed and resolved: the definition of crisis; whether a crisis is treated as real or as a socially constructed narrative, or both; the underlying concept and theory of society and its alternative forms; and the different kinds of change in relationship between crisis and society (recuperation, intensification, transformation and catastrophe). This complex systems approach to crisis is applied to the COVID-19 pandemic, analysing the cascade of the crisis through institutional domains and the consequent changes to multiple regimes of inequality.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial 4.0 license ( which permits adaptation, alteration, reproduction and distribution for non-commercial use, without further permission provided the original work is attributed. The derivative works do not need to be licensed on the same terms.
Publisher Keywords: crisis, COVID-19, pandemic, complexity theory, society
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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