CORONA CRISIS | WORKING PAPERS
Change only through crisis? Reflections on strategies for paradigm shift in an age of coronavirus and environmental breakdown
by Laurie Laybourn-Langton
PUBLISHED1. SEPTEMBER 2020
The emergency measures undertaken in response to the COIVD-19 pandemic constitute an unprecedented break from the norms and practice of the prevailing political-economic paradigm—the predominant set of economic theory, policies and narratives. Public health has always been a major driver of changes in political economy because it is a systems-focused approach, providing an effective mechanism for conceiving of and acting against the failings of socioeconomic systems. Into the future, the nature of crisis is changing, foremost as a result of critical anthropogenic destabilisation of climate system and the wider biosphere. The resultant increasing frequency and severity of environmental shocks can be transmitted across socio-economic systems, which are already experiencing acute stress, destabilising them over a period in which they must undergo rapid structural change—all of which presents unprecedented threats and opportunities to those seeking paradigmatic change.