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Narratives provide the storylines through which people make sense of the world. Actors strategically deploy narratives to advance agendas, telling stories about what or who is to blame and what should be done. When it comes to the coronavirus, multiple narratives are emerging. Instead of adopting a common frame to understand this threat, actors are doubling down on their existing critiques of globalization and neoliberalism, using the coronavirus to show how right they were all along.
Instead of trying to advance a dominant narrative about what the pandemic means for globalization, we think it is time to start developing mental models to understand what the different perspectives are, how they can be integrated and what trade-offs this might involve. This approach permits us to provide a more three-dimensional understanding of the problem. We’ve identified at least seven major storylines that are competing for attention in explaining what the virus means for economic globalization.