Pandemic as Polemic: Free Will in an Age of Restrictions?


  • Jytte Holmqvist University of Central Lancashire (UK)



Inserting the discourse within an existentialist framework, this paper examines our existence of interrupted realities through the lens of Kierkegaardian thoughts and also draws on Simone de Beauvoir’s “Qu’est-ce que l’existentialisme?” (1947). As we navigate a surrealist time of COVID-19 (ab)normal, the lingering pandemic has left an impact on a both societal and psychosocial level. With societies across the globe facing continuous restrictions, what happens to free will? De Beauvoir defines our raison d’être as the individual having reality “only through his engagement in the world”. In this period of limited individual freedom, can we still talk of free will and how shall we engage with this all-pervasive, rule-changing pandemic ‘New Normal’?

Author Biography

Jytte Holmqvist, University of Central Lancashire (UK)

Jytte Holmqvist is Lecturer in Film Theory, Academic Writing and Research Methodology at the University of Central Lancashire (UK) where she also guides students in their dissertation module. She is published in numerous journals, has chaired at four international conferences, and has edited the interdisciplinary volume The Patient-Doctor Dynamics: Current Trends in the Global Healthcare Sector (Brill 2018). Her black and white photographs feature on the cover pages of three Brill volumes. In 2022 she was conferred the International Award for Excellence from The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society, in recognition of her article “Our Pandemic 2021 Versus 1984 – Technology, Interconnectedness, and Social Ineptitude: A Case of History Repeating Itself”. This was ‘one of the highest-ranked articles emerging from the peer-review process according to the selection criteria outlined in the peer-review guidelines’.