COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges to Global Health – is Humanist Globolocal Biopolitics Possible?

COVID-19 Pandemic:
Challenges to Global Health – is Humanist Globolocal Biopolitics Possible?

Kravchenko S.A.,

MGIMO University,Moscow, Russia; Institute of Sociology of the Federal Canter of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 77019 | RESEARCHER_ID: H-5769-2016

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2020.06.07

For citation:

Kravchenko S.A. COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges to Global Health – is Humanist Globolocal Biopolitics Possible? – Polis. Political Studies. 2020. No. 6. P. 91-102. (In Russ.).


The article deals with the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the health of the world’s population, looked at through the context of the crisis in biopolitics. Biopolitics is based on liberal principles of formal rationalization, pragmatism, and mercantilism, which have – under the conditions of complex, non-linear, developing societies – proven to be dysfunctional; these reproduce ineffective approaches to medical insurance and to the treatment of patients whose situations do not correspond to the realities of interdependent development today. Specific contradictions of biopolitics, determined by its pragmatic values, are revealed; these now have become especially evident in their inability to effectively counteract the pandemic. In connection with this, possibilities of transitioning from biopolitics to another developmental trend are analyzed. It is shown that two opposing approaches to reforming existing biopolitical institutions have been formed: 1) the creation of a form of cosmopolitan biopolitics, assuming that its functionality social epidemiology, and take into account principles of substantive rationality and humanism, which are adequate to the complexities and non-linear progression of international development; 2) the movement towards improving nationally-oriented biopolitics, based on the “universal” principles of formal rationality and pragmatism, which, in the author’s opinion, is a dead end, as it does not eliminate the confrontational division of the world into “Us” and “Others”, nor does it address the risks posed by inequalities in the international division of labour. It is substantiated that the outcome of this confrontation depends on the objective factors of the nonlinear development of social and natural realities, which imply normative turbulence, natural discontinuities, and the possibility of bifurcation points, but to a large extent also imply a subjective factor of the reflexivity of scientific and political actors. In conclusion, the crisis of the current state of biopolitics, which has deepened under the influence of COVID-19, and the ambiguous results in overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, suggest that in the post-coronavirus world, biopolitics will not be western-centric.

COVID-19 pandemics, health, biopolitics, bioethics, non-linearity, globalization, glocalization, digitalization, reflexion, humanism.


Adams L.V., Butterly J.R. 2015. Diseases of Poverty: Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases, and Modern Plagues. Dartmouth: Dartmouth College Press. 232 р.

An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. 1992. Ed. by P. Bourdieu, L.J.D. Wacquant. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 348 р.

Bauman Z. 2006. Liquid Times. Living in an Age of Uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity Press. 128 р.

Bauman Z. 2011. Collateral Damage. Social Inequalities in a Global Age. Cambridge: Polity Press. 224 р.

Bauman Z. 2016. Strangers at Our Door. Cambridge: Polity Press. 120 р.

Bauman Z. 2017. Retrotopia. Cambridge: Polity Press. 179 р.

Bauman Z., Donskis L. 2016. Liquid Evil. Cambridge: Polity Press. 192 р.

Beck U. 2016. The Metamorphosis of the World: How Climate Change is Transforming Our Concept of the World. Cambridge: Polity Press. 240 р.

Beyond Bioethics: Toward a New Biopolitics. 2018. Ed. by O.K. Obasogie, M. Darnovsky. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 552 р.

Bourdieu P. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 613 р.

Braidotti R. 2013. The Posthuman. Cambridge: Polity Press. 180 р.

Castells M. 2010. The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. Volume I: The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 597 р.

Castells M., Banat-Weiser S., Hlebik S., Kallis G. et al. 2017. Another Economy is Possible: Culture and Economy in a Time of Crisis. Cambridge: Polity Press. 224 р.

Chin J. 2018. The AIDS Pandemic: The Collision of Epidemiology with Political Correctness. CRC Press; Taylor & Francis Group. 248 р.

Europe Beyond Universalism and Particularism. 2014. Ed. by S. Lindberg, S. Prozorov, M. Ojakangas. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 194 р.

Fukuyama F. 1995. Confucianism and Democracy. – Journal of Democracy. Vol. 6. No. 2. P. 20-33.

Giddens A. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 188 р.

Global Bioethics and Human Rights: Contemporary Issues. 2014. Ed. by W. Teays, J.-S. Gordon, A.D. Renteln. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 456 р.

Greenhalgh S., Winkler E.A. 2005. Governing China’s Population: From Leninist to Neoliberal Biopolitics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 412 р.

Have H. ten. 2016. Vulnerability: Challenging Bioethics. London; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. 264 р.

Horkheimer M. 1992. Selections from “Traditional and Critical Theory”. – Critical Theory: The Essential Readings. Ed. by J. Simon-Ingram. St. Paul, MN: Paragon. P. 239-254.

Iida J. (2020). Digital transformation vs COVID-19: The case of Japan. – Digital Law Journal. Vol. 1. No. 2. P. 8-16.

Jackson N., Carter P. 1998. Labour as Dressage. – Foucault, Management, and Organization Theory: From Panoptic on to Technologies of Self. Ed. by A. McKinley, K. Starkey. London: Sage. P. 49-64.

Koerner S., Russel I. 2016. Unquiet Pasts: Risk Society, Lived Cultural Heritage, Re-designing Reflexivity. London: Routledge. 442 p.

Krickeberg K., Pham V.T., Pham T.M.H. 2019. Epidemiology: Key to Public Health. Cham: Springer International Publishing. 264 р.

Mann S. 2010. Bioethics in Perspective: Corporate Power, Public Health and Political Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 287 р.

Marcum J.A. 2008. An Introductory Philosophy of Medicine. Humanizing Modern Medicine. Heidelberg: Springer Netherlands. 376 р.

Mason M. 2005. The New Accountability: Environmental Responsibility Across Borders. London: Earthscan. 205 р.

Mayes C. 2016. The Biopolitics of Lifestyle: Foucault, Ethics and Healthy Choices. London; New York: Routledge. 156 р.

Mosco V. 2017. Becoming Digital. Toward a Post-Internet Society. London: Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley. 248 р.

Newsom Kerr M.L. 2018. Contagion, Isolation and Biopolitics in Victorian London. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 370 p.

Perrow Ch. 1999. Normal Accidents: Living with High Risk Technologies. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 464 р.

Rethinking Social Epidemiology. Towards a Science of Change. 2012. Ed. by P. O’Campo, J.R. Dunn. Heidelberg: Springer Netherlands. 350 р.

Ritzer G. 2013. The McDonaldization of Society. London; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 237 р.

Rossi A. 2015. The Labour of Subjectivity: Foucault on Biopolitics, Economy, Critique. London; Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield International. 208 р.

Roudometof V. 2016. Glocalization. A Critical Introduction. London; New York: Routledge. 188 р.

Social Epidemiology. 2014. Ed. by L.F. Berkman, I. Kawachi, M. Glymour. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 640 р.

Sunstein C.R. 2014. Valuing Life: Humanizing the Regulatory State. Chicago: Chicago University Press. 240 р.

The Care of Life: Transdisciplinary Perspectives in Bioethics and Biopolitics. 2015. Ed. by M. de Beistegui, G. Bianco, M. Gracieuse. London; New York: Rowman & Littlefield International. 332 р.

The Foucault Effect. Studies in Governmentality. 1991. Ed. by G. Burchell, C. Gordon, P. Miller. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 318 р.

Urry J. 2008. Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity Press. 336 р.

Vanderburg W.H. 2016. Our Battle for the Human Spirit: Scientific Knowing, Technical Doing, and Daily. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 436 р.


Foucault M. 2002. Dits et ecrits. Articles, politiques conferences, interviews, 1970-1984. (Russ. ed.: Foucault M. Intellektualy i vlast’: Izbrannye politicheskie stat’i, vystupleniya i interv’yu. Moscow: Praxis. 384 p.)

Kravchenko S.A. 2011. Sociology on the Move to Interaction of Theoretical and Methodological Approaches. – Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. No. 10. P. 11-18 (In Russ.)

Kravchenko S.A. 2017. Metamorphoses: Essence, Increasingly Complex Types, Place in Sociology of Knowledge. – Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. No. 1. P. 3-14. (In Russ.)

Prigogine I., Stengers I. 2001. Order Out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature. (Russ. ed.: Prigogine I., Stengers I. Poryadok iz khaosa. Novyi dialog cheloveka s prirodoi. Moscow: Editorial URSS. 240 p.)

Sorokin P. 2009. The Crisis of our Age: The Social and Cultural Outlook. (Russ. ed.: Sorokin P. Krizis nashego vremeni. Moscow: ISPI RAN. 388 p.)

Vеblеn T. 1984. The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions. (Russ. ed.: Vеblеn T. Teoriya prazdnogo klassa. Moscow: Progress. 368 p.)

Wallerstein I. 2001. Analiz mirovykh sistem i situatsiya v sovremennom mire [The Modern World-Systems Analysis and a Clear Outline of the Modern World-System]. St. Petersburg: Universitetskaya kniga. 416 p. (In Russ.) 

Content No. 6, 2020

See also:

Arbatova N.K.,
EU Security: Micro-Aggression with Macro-Consequences. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No5

Radina N.K.,
Media models of propaganda: the COVID-19 pandemic in Russian-language media with a “different opinion”. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No4

Chebankova E.A., Dutkiewicz P.,
Covid-19 Pandemic and the World Order. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No2

Sokolov B.O., Zavadskaya M.A.,
Individual experience of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and political support in Russia: evidence from the Values in Crisis survey. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No4

Mchedlova M.M., Kazarinova D.B.,
COVID-19 Pandemic Challenge and Religion: Ontology vs Politics. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No4



   2024      2023      2022      2021   
   2020      2019      2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991