The Post-Normal Challenges of COVID-19: Constructing Effective and Legitimate Responses

Stephen Rainey*, Maru Mormina, Sapfo Lignou, Joseph Nguyen, Paula Larsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The ongoing COVID-19 emergency clearly presents novel challenges, both in terms of difficulties for maintaining public health and in assuring that governmental responses are ethically sound. Centrally, responses must respect, as best as possible, fundamental human rights and human values. Conflicts among values arise in response to the crisis, and public officials have no choice but to prioritize some while sacrificing others. Utilizing the concepts of effectiveness and legitimacy within the framework of post-normal science (PNS), we investigate and recommend processes and measures to address COVID-19 that support increased public health, while upholding established rights and values. The effectiveness and legitimacy of science-led policymaking requires investigation of how that policy ought to be made (e.g. concepts of policymaking and PNS), as well as how it ought to interact with diversely-constituted publics (e.g. public inclusion in policymaking and policy communication).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-601
Number of pages10
JournalScience and Public Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • governance
  • post-normal science
  • rights


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