Encapsulation: Governing actual uncertainty in the coronavirus pandemic

Michael Rabi*, Limor Samimian-Darash, Eva Hilberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The coronavirus pandemic has revived scholarly engagement with the concept of biopolitics, with interpretations diagnosing either the widespread adoption of a classic biopolitical regime or the full-blown emergence of totalitarian repression (or both of these simultaneously). Relying on a close analysis of different interventions taken by Israeli authorities in response to the pandemic, this article argues that, rather than classic biopolitical strategies, such governmental interventions are better understood in relation to a problem of actual uncertainty. The case of Israel demonstrates how state apparatuses responded to actual uncertainty with technologies that are linked to different rationalities and how these technologies enabled the creation and management of a new milieu. The article further argues that, in making and intervening upon this milieu, state apparatuses employed a particular normalisation strategy that is tied to a form of power that we term encapsulation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)586-603
Number of pages18
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number3
Early online date1 Feb 2022
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness


  • actual uncertainty
  • biopolitics
  • coronavirus pandemic
  • encapsulation
  • normalisation


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