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Palgrave Macmillan

Recovering Civility during COVID-19

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  • Open Access
  • © 2021

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  • This an Open Access book
  • Examines the COVID-19 pandemic through the distinctive lens of the concept of civility
  • Identifies ways in which the pandemic disrupts norms of politeness and challenges public-minded behaviour and policies
  • Advances political theory by unpacking the concept of civility and applying it to pressing social and political problems

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About this book

This Open Access book examines many of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic through the distinctive lens of civility. The idea of civility appears often in both public and academic debates, and a polarized political climate frequently leads to allegations of uncivil speech and behaviour. Norms of civility are always contested, even more so in moments of crisis such as a global pandemic. A focus on civility provides crucial insight and guidance on how to navigate the social and political challenges resulting from COVID-19. Furthermore, it offers a framework through which citizens and policymakers can better understand the causes and consequences of incivility, and devise ways to recover civility in our social and political lives.  

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Table of contents (4 chapters)


"This book provides a timely and helpful way to understand and discuss key aspects of the COVID-19 crisis. It does so by unpacking and applying the concept of civility, thus offering a novel political theory perspective on the pandemic." (Sune Lægaard, Associate Dean, Department of Communication and Arts, Roskilde University).

 “The normative concept of civility plays a crucial—albeit often underappreciated—role in public ethics and political philosophy. Although they cannot by themselves replace deontic moral constraints, norms of civility can support them and inspire citizens to act in a morally responsible and compassionate way in their social life. As Bonotti and Zech forcefully show in this timely and well-argued book, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the irreplaceable role of civility in the regulation of our conduct.” (Jocelyn Maclure, Full Professor of Philosophy at Laval University and President of the Ethics in Science and Technology Commission (Quebec,Canada))

Authors and Affiliations

  • Politics and International Relations, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

    Matteo Bonotti, Steven T. Zech

About the authors

Matteo Bonotti (PhD University of Edinburgh) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Monash University, having previously taught at Cardiff University, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Edinburgh. Matteo’s research interests include political liberalism and public reason, linguistic justice, free speech, food justice, and the normative dimensions of partisanship. His work has appeared in such journals as the American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, Political Studies, the Journal of Common Market Studies, the Journal of Applied Philosophy, Law and Philosophy, and the European Journal of Political Theory. His monograph Partisanship and Political Liberalism in Diverse Societies was published by Oxford University Press in 2017.   

Steven T. Zech (PhD University of Washington) is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Monash University. He was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver. Steve’s research focuses on how communities respond to political violence and terrorism at the local level and he has conducted extensive fieldwork on self-defense forces in Peru, as well as militias in the Philippines and the United States. His work has appeared in journals such as International Studies Review, Terrorism and Political Violence, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Defence and Peace Economics, Defense & Security Analysis, and the Journal of Terrorism Research. His dissertation Between Two Fires: Civilian Resistance during Internal Armed Conflict in Peru was awarded the Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI) 2016 prize for Best Doctoral Dissertation in the Field of Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies.         

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