COVID-19 and the ‘perfectly governed city’

Author Identifier

Laura Glitsos

ORCID : 0000-0003-2576-6371

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal for Cultural Research


Taylor & Francis


School of Arts and Humanities


Glitsos, L. (2021). COVID-19 and the ‘perfectly governed city’. Journal for Cultural Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/14797585.2021.1943816


In this article, I question the production of certain cultural and geographic zones under the new emergency protocols mandated through COVID-19 governance, by drawing upon the theoretical model of Foucault’s ‘perfectly governed city’ (1977, p. 198). I argue that in the first few months of 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic response, the rapid absorption of state directives into the home (two-person rule) and the body (social distancing) set a precedent for a new standard of state boundary-crossing that should be monitored by cultural studies academics with prejudice. Using Berger and Luckman, I point to the State’s use of habitualisation through repetition that can be used to monitor and control citizenry at a later time but for different purposes. The purpose of this article is to show that these measures represent a condition of potential COVID-style governance, even after the threat to public health has subsided. In particular, its potentiality lies in the effects of disciplining or training the body (particularly through social distancing practices), routinisation and habitualisation, and the normalisation of bodily surveillance in everyday life.