Bio-politics and computational technologies in COVID-19 governance: thoughts from England

This article was originally published here

Int J Health Policy Manag. Sep 20, 2021. doi: 10.34172 / ijhpm.2021.134. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Through extensive use of public media, the English government has become heavily involved in encouraging and educating people on how to manage their lives during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This model of governance of health emergencies reproduces the practice of “computing technologies” and “biopolitics” integrated into population management. Previous research on the governance of COVID-19, both in the UK and beyond, provides varying insights into the broader ‘government technologies’ and biopolitics by many governments. However, rarely have studies explicitly and distinctly highlighted the unique ‘computational technologies’ mobilized by governments as part of their biopolitically designed ‘technologies of government’ to force people to manage their lives under the leadership of COVID-19. . The paper therefore examines how the UK government deployed ‘compute technology’ as part of its health governance and governmentality strategies during the first wave of COVID-19 in England.

METHODS: This study uses document analysis as a method of data collection. Its review includes documents, press releases, social media disclosures and health advice released by the UK government from March to December 2020. The data is analyzed using Foucault governmentality and biopolitical scholarship.

RESULTS: The results of the article reveal the UK Government’s use of integrated self-governance computational technologies in the form of risk calculations and metrics / statistics (e.g. death toll, death rates, infection), performance management (for example, a social distance of two meters and hand washing for twenty seconds) and discipline and control (for example, fourteen days of self-isolation), in addition to a more conventional top-down management decision-making process adopted in the past. Through these newly launched ‘computational technologies’, the government has ‘biopolitically’ controlled the behaviors and lifestyles of vulnerable community members, health workers and the general public from a distance, instilling self-management and education. individualization of responsibilities.

CONCLUSION: Newly adopted computational technologies used by the UK government have created a multi-faceted discourse on obligations, rights and the extent of engagement, and have facilitated guidance on what people should do to achieve protect and protect others from the spread of the virus. Overall, the openly and idiosyncratically used computational technologies resemble a unique ‘art of government’ and produce a set of ‘biopolitical’ interventions forcing populations to manage their own well-being and govern them remotely during COVID -19.

PMID:34814665 | DO I:10.34172 / ijhpm.2021.134

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