The spatial dimension of coronavirus crisis management and the role of subnational actors in the German–Polish border region

Hennig A.
Document Type
Source Title
European Societies


The paper is concerned with the spatial dimension of the coronavirus crisis and the tensions it created in multilevel governance in the Polish–German border region. Regarding the spatial dimension of the crisis, territoriality is referred to as the political competence to exert control over a national territory and over places particularly affected by the coronavirus crisis and its management–from local hubs of outbreaks to twin cities in border regions facing closed borders. Territoriality was mirrored in the unilateral decisions of the central governments to close national borders in Europe. Considering spatiality as well as the asymmetric multilevel setting of cross-border Polish–German relations, this paper investigates to what extent subnational actors were able to interact in a cross-border sense in this situation. The paper shows the relevance of subnational political authorities and highlights the significance of civil society actors in times of crisis, as they were able to lobby for a less restrictive border management response and helped to hold–merely through digital activities–the web of bilateral relations together. In this light, it may enhance the ability of further research to take a multilevel territorial perspective for a more nuanced picture of the pandemic’s effects. © 2020 European Sociological Association.

Migration angle
Region/Country (by coverage)