Your browser has javascript turned off or blocked. This will lead to some parts of our website to not work properly or at all. Turn on javascript for best performance.

The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

New article in the Conversation on Japan, Sweden, and Covid exceptionalism.

screenshot from "the Conversation" web site

Paul O'Shea has written an article in the Conversation analyzing Covid exceptionalism in the cases of Japan and Sweden.

The article examines national exceptionalism in political and media rhetoric in Japan and Sweden since the onset of the pandemic. It finds that Japanese exceptionalism was 'classic exceptionalism', insofar as the rhetoric highlighted particular elements of Japanese culture meaning that the Japanese approach would only work in Japan, and not in other countries. Swedish exceptionalism was a more 'paradoxical' kind. On the one hand the Swedish response was rooted in the folktvett and self-responsibility of the Swedish people, while on the other Sweden was the only country in Europe led by science rather than politics. The Swedish approach was the scientifically correct one, and the rest of the world could learn from it.

These cases highlight the dangers of associating pandemic response with national exceptionalism. While it may help in mobilisation, it can also lead to policy inertia - the failure to change course in tandem with shifts in the scientific consensus and best practice.