Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International studies

Committee Director

Regina Karp

Committee Member

Angelica J. Huizar

Committee Member

Matthew DiLorenzo

Committee Member

Tatiana Rizova


On January 31, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency for only the sixth time in its history. On March 11, 2020, it was stated that COVID-19 constituted a pandemic. How did countries respond? This dissertation traces the evolution of national crisis narratives in four states and assesses their relative success. The findings of this study are that pandemic crisis narratives are not generalizable to all crisis situations but require a high level of compliance to be effective in stopping the crisis. There is no formula for government success, there are no decisive variables determining outcomes. The evidence shows that COVID mitigation measures were viewed as deeply personal, and compliance evaluated from cultural and identity perspectives. Neither carefully crafted national crisis narratives nor conspiracy theories appear to shape popular response to compliance demands.


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