War, Heroes and Sacrifice: Masking Neoliberal Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ben A. Lohmeyer, Nik Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The precarity and violation that has resulted from decades of neoliberal reforms have been made clear in the global COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in terms of access to healthcare and financial inequality. However, ideological discourses of individual heroics have been rapidly deployed, to patch up the damage done to neoliberal rhetoric. In this paper, we argue a critical sociological lens reveals something important about this violence of neoliberalism at this moment during the crisis. Analysing media articles that have considerable reach, availability and shareability, we interrogate the rhetorical framing of frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and uncover three significant themes: ‘celebrating “our” heroes’, ‘personal sacrifice’ and ‘the heroes of war’. We argue that the emerging field of the sociology of violence provides the means to expose the violence of neoliberalism in the current COVID-19 pandemic as well as identify the discursive apparatus that obscure the violation of neoliberalism more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-639
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Sociology
Issue number4-5
Early online date29 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • COVID-19
  • heroes
  • neoliberal violence
  • sacrifice
  • sociology of violence
  • war


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