COVID-19: Social Inequalities and Human Possibilities  book cover
1st Edition

COVID-19: Social Inequalities and Human Possibilities

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after February 11, 2022
ISBN 9781032012827
February 11, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

COVID-19: Social Inequalities and Human Possibilities examines the unequal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals, communities, and countries, a fact seldom acknowledged and often suppressed or invisible. Taking a global approach and including a comprehensive timeline, this book demonstrates how the impact of the pandemic has differed as a result of social inequalities, such as economic development, social class, race and ethnicity, and access to health care and education. The book concludes with cautious optimism and insights into how global society can (re-)build a brighter post-COVID-19-pandemic world.

Economic inequality between and within nations has significantly contributed to the chances of individuals contracting and dying from the virus. Developing nations with weak health care systems, workers whose jobs cannot be performed remotely, the differences between those with and without access to soap and water to wash their hands, or the ability to practice physical distancing, also account for the unequal impact of the virus. Racial and ethnic minorities experience higher death rates from the virus, which has also unequally affected indigenous peoples and urban and foreign migrants around the world. Inequality is also embedded in national and international responses to the pandemic, as giving and receiving aid is often impacted by inequalities of demographic and national power and influence, resulting in national and global competition rather than the collaboration needed to end the pandemic.

Along with the other titles in Routledge’s The COVID-19 Pandemic series, this book represents a timely and critical advance in knowledge related to what many believe to be the greatest threat to global ways of being in more than a century. COVID-19: Social Inequalities and Human Possibilities is therefore indispensable for academics, researchers, and students as well as activists and policy makers interested in understanding the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and eradicating the inequalities it has exacerbated.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to a global pandemic
  2. Pandemic numbers, consequences, and contradictions
  3. The haves and never hads
  4. Global inequities: a tale of two pandemics
  5. Citizenship, migration, and legal belonging
  6. Vulnerable and minority populations
  7. Culture counts
  8. To learn or not to learn?
  9. Digital inequalities: exacerbating the divide
  10. Politics and ideologies
  11. Grey skies are gonna clear up?
  12. 12. Vaccines: are we really all in this together?
  13. 13.(Re-)building a post-pandemic world

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J. Michael Ryan is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan. Dr. Ryan was previously a researcher for the TRANSRIGHTS Project at The University of Lisbon, Portugal and has taught courses at The American University in Cairo, Egypt, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Ecuador and the University of Maryland, USA. Before returning to academia, Dr. Ryan worked as a research methodologist at the National Center for Health Statistics in Washington, D.C. He is the editor of multiple volumes including COVID-19: Global pandemic, societal responses, ideological solutions (Routledge 2021), COVID-19: Social consequences and cultural adaptations (Routledge 2021), Trans Lives in a Globalizing World: Rights, identities, and politics (Routledge 2020), and Core Concepts in Sociology (Wiley 2019). He is also the editor of Routledge’s The COVID-19 Pandemic series.

Serena Nanda is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York (USA). Her research interests include gender and sexuality, non-binary genders, law and culture, museum studies, kinship, social stratification, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her books include Love and Marriage: Cultural Diversity in a Changing World (Waveland Press, 2019), Gender Diversity: Crosscultural Variations (Waveland Press, 2014) and Neither Man nor Woman: the Hijras of India (Wadsworth Publishing, 1998), which won the 1990 Ruth Benedict Prize. She is also co-author of multiple editions of two cultural anthropology textbooks, Cultural Anthropology (Sage, 2019) and Culture Counts: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Sage, 2021), and a contributor to COVID-19: Social Consequences and Cultural Adaptations (Routledge 2021).


'You hold in your hands a tour de force. Ryan and Nanda have crafted what feels like a GPS for our time, thoughtfully and carefully leading us through this anxious, dark, and confusing labyrinth in our social history, alerting us to existing landmines and waking us up to ones of our own creation. Yet they manage to do this with profound curiosity and care, and their sociological analysis provides much needed light to vanquish the darkness.'

Deborah J. Cohan, Professor of Sociology, University of South Carolina Beaufort 

'Based on a reading of an extensive amount of cutting-edge information, this book documents how the COVID-19 pandemic is entangled in social inequalities both within and across nation-states: not only has the pandemic aggravated existing disparities between the disadvantaged and the wealthy but it has also created new ones. This work sheds light on the global pandemonium of the COVID-19 pandemic and will no doubt remain essential reading for many years to come as the world strives for greater social justice.'

Niko Besnier, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, University of Amsterdam

'Michael Ryan and Serena Nanda offer a vivid, timely and comprehensive analysis of the sociological aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as they relate to social stratification. The authors make it abundantly clear that the pandemic is at least as much a social problem as it is a health crisis. Indeed, as they powerfully demonstrate, it is both. While they paint a dark picture, they also see hope in rebuilding better in the wake of the pandemic.'

George Ritzer, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Maryland

'After Ryan's two successful edited volumes on COVID-19, he has teamed up with Serena Nanda to deliver this remarkably powerful book on the impact of COVID-19 on social (global, local, digital) inequalities and human capabilities. It is a tale of pandemic inequalities, but also a plea for (re-)building a post-pandemic world.'  

Sari Hanafi, President, International Sociological Association