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Department of Humanities


The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a unique global experience, arousing both exclusionary nationalistic and inclusionary responses of solidarity. This article aims to explore the discursive and linguistic means by which the COVID-19 pandemic, as a macro-event, has been translated into local micro-events. The analysis studies the global pandemic through the initial statements of 29 leading political actors across four continents. The aim is to examine discursive constructions of solidarity and nationalism through the social representation of inclusion/exclusion of in-, out-, and affiliated groups. The comparative analysis is based on the theoretical and methodological framework of the socio-cognitive approach to critical discourse analysis and is informed by argumentation theory and nationalism studies. The results of our analysis suggest that leaders have constructed the virus as the main outgroup through the metaphors of the pandemic-as-war and the pandemic-as-movement which have entered the national space. Faced with this threat, these speeches have discursively constructed the nation-as-a-team as the main in-group and prioritized (1) a vertical type of solidarity based on nationhood and according to governmental plans; (2) exclusionary solidarity against rule-breakers; (3) horizontal solidarity that is both intergenerational and among family members, and (4) transnational solidarity. It is not by chance that the world stands as a relevant affiliated group that needs to forcibly collaborate in order to face the main outgroup, the virus itself. A major consensus has been found in constructing the out-group. In contrast, the linguistic and discursive constructions of in-groups and their affiliates display a greater variation, depending upon the prevalent discursive practices and social context within different countries.

Publication Title

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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