The Frontline as Performative Frame: An Analysis of the UK COVID Crisis

Farris, Sara R.; Yuval-Davis, Nira and Rottenberg, Catherine. 2021. The Frontline as Performative Frame: An Analysis of the UK COVID Crisis. State Crime Journal, 10(2), pp. 284-303. ISSN 2046-6056 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this paper, we examine the multiple significations of the “frontline” metaphor in the UK during the first ten months of COVID-19. We argue that the term “frontline” has operated as a performative frame, which has helped to produce the very notion and the materialization of the “COVID-19 frontline” and keyworkers. Showing how the UK gov- ernment has repeatedly cited this metaphor, we outline the contradictory effects it has generated through an interplay of hyper-visibility and opaqueness. The frontline meta- phor has been used to justify the government’s injection of massive amounts of public money into the economy, render hyper-visible workers who had previously been invisible, whilst generating a sense of civic responsibility. Simultaneously, however, the metaphor has created a smokescreen for corrupt practices, deflecting attention away from resource- starved health and social care infrastructures and intensifying forms of “everyday border- ing” and “everyday racism” that deepen structural injustices in the UK.

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frontline; metaphor; keyworkers; COVID-19; performative frame; UK; national belonging

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20 October 2021Accepted
20 December 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

20 Jan 2022 17:34

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20 Jan 2022 17:35

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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