Citizenship in times of crisis: biosocial state–citizen relations during COVID-19 in Austria

Isabella M. Radhuber*, Christian Haddad, Katharina Kieslich, Katharina T. Paul, Barbara Prainsack, Seliem El-Sayed, Lukas Schlogl, Wanda Spahl, Elias Weiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article


Drawing upon 152 in-depth qualitative interviews with residents in Austria carried out in the first year of the pandemic, this article discusses how people’s experiences with COVID-19 policies reflect and reshape state–citizen relations. Coinciding with a significant government crisis, the first year of COVID-19 in Austria saw pandemic measures justified with reference to a biological, often medical understanding of health that framed disease prevention in terms of transmission reduction, often with reference to metrics such as hospitalisation rates, etc. Instead of using this biomedical frame, our interviewees, however, drew attention to biopsychosocial dimensions of the crisis and problematised the entanglements between economy and health. We call this the emergence of a biosocial notion of citizenship that is attentive to psychological, social and economic dimensions of health. Insights into the biosocial nature of pandemic citizenship open a window of opportunity for addressing long-standing social injustices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-351
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Early online date22 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Austria
  • Biosocial citizenship
  • COVID-19
  • Pandemic policies
  • Qualitative interviews
  • State–citizen relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health (social science)
  • Health Policy


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