Constructing the coronavirus crisis: Narratives of time in British political discourse on COVID-19

Lee Jarvis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


This article explores the importance of constructions of temporality within the UK government’s discourse on the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis across the first six months of 2020. Drawing on over 120 official texts, it traces the emergence of discontinuous, linear, and cyclical conceptions of time in representations of the virus’ pasts, presents, and futures. Three arguments are made. First, constructions of temporality were fundamental to the social, political, and historical positioning of the virus. Second, these constructions were constitutively important in producing, explaining, justifying and celebrating the UK government’s response to the virus. And, third, tensions and inconsistencies between these constructions of temporality highlight the contingent, and constructed, character of official discourse, pulling into question the inevitability of the UK’s response and opening opportunity for critical intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-43
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number1
Early online date28 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • Time
  • Temporality
  • Discourse
  • British Politics
  • British politics

Cite this