Purpose: This paper provides an analysis of the notion of dugnad (collective effort) in the context of the first weeks of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Norway . By appealing to people's sense of collective effort (dugnadsånd) Norwegian leaders successfully managed to coordinate the actions of the population and beat the outbreak . Design/methodology/approach: The argument builds on the pragmatic sociology associated with Boltanski and Thévenot and their “ orders of worth ” . Building on qualitative interview studies of the Norwegian middle and working classes a moral ideal type labelled “ the socially responsible citizen ” is identified . Findings: The authors argue that dugnad is embedded in a moral repertoire of the socially responsible citizen that is indicative of a specific Norwegian welfare mentality and that is imperative for the sustainability and resilience of the Norwegian welfare model . This repertoire is found across social classes and has to be understood in light of the Norwegian welfare model and the role of civil society . Social implications: The analysis explains the societal impact of the appeal and endorsement of the notion of dugnad in the context of the outbreak of COVID-19 . Originality/value: The paper explores the roots and impact of a social phenomenon that has not been a matter for much sociological analysis.