Non-knowledge and political decision-making in the age of the coronavirus

Activity: Talk or presentationPublic talk


The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has had far-reaching effects on public health and led to global socioeconomic disruption despite attempts to prevent the spread of the disease by quarantine. The international committee World Health Assembly (WHA), convened by World Health Organization (WHO), cautioned in 2011 that the outbreak of a new pandemic is inevitable but many countries have been ill-prepared to respond to a severe influenza pandemic. European countries including Finland have had pandemic plans but few have recently tested them in the real life. Under the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemics, public authorities and politicians have struggled how to manage an enormous amount of ignorance regarding the virus. In this presentation, my purpose is to discuss the role of non-knowledge in political decision-making by analyzing the actions of the Finnish government in the Spring 2020. Drawing on insights from social epistemology, science and technology studies (STS) and the emerging interdisciplinary field of ignorance studies, my presentation focuses on the the temporality of non-knowledge in decision-making, e.g., the role of scenarios and predictions as ‘not-yet-known’. Illustrating my epistemic analysis with media material and press releases by the Finnish government, my paper proposes that making decisions under ignorance requires new forms of rationality, justification, legitimation, and observation of consequences.
Period20 Jan 2022
Event titleTheorising contestation of health and wellbeing : State of the art and how to move forward?
Event typeWorkshop
LocationTurku, FinlandShow on map

Country of activity

  • Finland