Preparedness as Governmentality. Probing the Italian Management of the Covid-19 Emergency


  • Luigi Pellizzoni Department of Political Sciences, University of Pisa
  • Barbara Sena Department of Law and Economics, University of Rome Unitelma Sapienza



governmentality, biopolitics, preparedness, COVID-19, post-security


The paper deals with preparedness, a take on biological threats of growing academic and policy relevance, as a clue to ongoing changes in governmental approaches. We first address its features. Gauged against the security rationale of biopolitical governmentality, as discussed by Foucault, we argue these show “post-securitarian” traits. We then focus on the Italian management of the Covid-19 emergency, examining the main regulatory documents enforced by the Government during the pandemic, from its beginning, in January 2020, to July 2021. Results show that the response to the pandemic has been patchy; ample recourse to disciplinary measures created tensions with the securitarian logic of health apparatuses; the preventive character of many approaches and instruments, including vaccinations, contrasts with the precautionary framework of their actual implementation; and the limited role played by preparedness at a surface level is counterweighed by the post-securitarian implications of some measures and of the blurring of the very distinction between biopolitical failure and success. Relevant questions arise concerning the handling of new and emergent threats and, more broadly, the evolution of governmental powers in current societies.


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How to Cite

Pellizzoni, L., & Sena, B. (2021). Preparedness as Governmentality. Probing the Italian Management of the Covid-19 Emergency. Sociologica, 15(3), 61–83.