Sociology’s Interpretation of the Coronavirus Pandemic



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Sociology of Pandemics



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Sociology of Pandemics

Sociology is a useful construct in understanding the Covid-19 pandemic. While the epidemic is predominantly a biological condition, their effects are social in nature. The pandemic has worsened inequalities around the world, and shown that aspects like social class and race impact how society responds. Similarly, the coronavirus pandemic has affected social organization and shown some of the weaknesses inherent in certain social structures. 

Sociology’s Interpretation of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Class differences in society make the pandemic worse, and the pandemic has exposed the vast inequalities that exist in society. The virus affects those that live in sub-par social conditions. If a person belongs to a community with overcrowded housing, chances are that they are more likely to get the disease. Additionally, those that already have fragile living arrangements such as refugees or the temporarily homeless tend to have a harder time curbing the crisis than others. Some sectors have been hit hard by the crisis. People in none essential sectors like the arts (theatre, stand-up comedy shows and music concerts) have had to close up. Individuals who work in areas with a high concentration of people such as in education or restaurants have had to close up. Blue collar workers or low income workers have been severely affected. In places without reliable social welfare systems, problems with financial support have exposed the inequality inherent in society. Furthermore, in some well-organized societies, certain groups like undocumented immigrants or refugees are not included in welfare programs, so when they lose their jobs, they do not have a safety net.

The opportunities for teleworking have affected social classes differently. Mostly those who do white collar work and are college educated have had the opportunity to work from home. The same is true for children who come from low income homes. Worse still, parents have played caregiving roles while still attempting to work. For single parents in low income homes, this has been extremely challenging. Furthermore, they have had difficulties in getting support networks from parents. In the past, grandparents or extended family members have been helping them. However, since older individuals are more vulnerable to Covid-19, they cannot put themselves at extra risk. Mostly women have to take up this unpaid labor. This means that the remedies available for dealing with economic challenges from the pandemic are unsatisfactory. 

Class differences also lead to racial and gender inequalities. Since many racial minorities and women work in low income service sectors, they are the ones that first get laid off. There is gender inequality in parental status as fathers tend to get a premium when they get children while women tend to get penalized. In times of economic crises, employers often assume that mothers will not give all their time as fathers will. Therefore, they tend to let go of their female parents more than their male ones. Hispanics and other racial minorities usually do temporary work. When their employers choose to discharge workers because of the pandemic, these racial groups tend to face numerous challenges. 

Social control has also changed in the wake of the crisis. The relationship between citizens and their governments or governance bodies has changed. Citizens in liberal states have come to accept greater levels of state control than they have previously done so. For instance, governments have instated lockdown measures and movement restrictions. In the process of doing so, governments have relied on more surveillance, and intrusive technologies to ensure that they protect citizens from further spread. As an example, in some locations, only individuals with vaccinations are allowed to travel or enter its territories. While this has adverse effects on businesses, citizens have accepted such a level of intrusion in order to curb the pandemic. Police now have the right to micromanage aspects of everyday lives like trips to parks and social event attendance. During pandemics, social liberties often become irrelevant as these are emergencies.

Even though social control has been welcome, it has had different effects on different categories of people. Governments have not accorded healthcare workers the kind of protection they deserve. This is especially in the first phase of the pandemic or during the time when new variants arise. Low income workers that belong to essential services like supermarkets have had greater exposure to infections, and minimal protections. These individuals could not leverage the pandemic to demand for better pay or working conditions in general as society deemed it unethical. Additionally, some people like those in retirement homes have been excluded in official statistics. When governments report the number of deaths from the coronavirus, they often skip this category. Therefore, they miss out on the care and attention that they deserve as a group that is disproportionately affected by the disease. 

Aside from the aging and healthcare workers, some countries have faced disproportionate and unfair limitations. International institutions like the United Nations have not played an important role in this crisis. Instead, national governments have been the ones in control. This means that some countries have discriminated against others. For instance, the United Arab Emirates denied some countries from Africa entry while countries like the UK and the US, which had higher infection rates were allowed. These governments have thus demonstrated that there is international discrimination and hence inequality among nations. Vaccine nationalism or the tendency to hoard vaccines even when most of a country’s population has been vaccinated often denies poorer nations the opportunity to curb the pandemic. In the end, this prevents the global healthcare system from fighting the illness and eradicating it. Therefore, the government as a mechanism of social control is exaggerating inequalities between the Global South and Global North.

The pandemic has also had a profound influence on social relations, and this has affected some people more than others. Lockdown and movement restrictions have limited the degree to which people can interact with one another. This has had implications on community relations and civil society work. People could no longer draw on their communities to take a stand against certain issues. The Black Lives Matter movement is an exception to this occurrence. However, even in this case many participants might have wanted to show their solidarity with the community during protests but they could not because of police responses and prevailing restrictions. This means that there been fewer opportunities to defend social causes. 

Gender inequalities manifested and emanated from the pandemic. Home confinement has meant that gender-based violence has increased. Women and children have fallen victim to violence. Some of these individuals have no escape because they are dependent on their abusers for financial security. Therefore, persons from low social economic backgrounds tend to face more risk than those from higher income backgrounds. This pandemic has thus demonstrated that there is an intersectionality between certain categories of inequality like social class or gender. 

Finally, the pandemic has brought into sharp focus social behavior. When managing the spread of Covid-19, stay-at-home roles and other restrictions needed to reflect realistic conditions. The federal government as well as other authorities adjusted their mandates based on people’s social behavior. For instance, during the first phase of the pandemic, there was stockpiling. Sociology helped to demonstrate what informs panic buying. Additionally, risk perception differs in terms of the group to which one belongs. The youth in particular are not as cautious as the elderly. Additionally, the media has played a role in shaping the narrative to which people ascribed. The way people respond to certain messages such as vaccination differed based on the media they consumed. For instance, black people were initially mistrustful of the vaccine until some interventions addressing their concerns were instated. 

As a way forward, the Covid pandemic has demonstrated weaknesses in social structures, and made the case for subsequent changes in society. This can manifest in becoming more sensitive to the needs of individuals in the bottom tier of the social stratum. It calls for the need for more synchronized healthcare systems and inclusion of the disadvantaged as they are the most affected and will often slow down recovery from the pandemic. The need to improve the wellbeing of the disadvantaged even when they do not belong to one’s country remains strong. The government should update social welfare so that it can be useful during such difficult times. Furthermore, nations in general should refrain from discriminatory practices as this prolongs the pandemic. Whatever approach one chooses, the best remedy is to consider this issue from an intersectional perspective. If one only considers how the pandemic affects ethnic minorities or women, they will have missed the point. It is more appropriate to consider how every individual experiences the inequalities put together. For instance, a person might be working in healthcare as a cleaner and may be a single mother in a low income neighborhood. Such a person experiences a conflation of issues which all require social interventions from different parameters.


The coronavirus pandemic has led to heightened inequality. Additionally inequality makes the pandemic worse. This manifests in terms of social control, gender, race and social class. The pandemic has necessitated higher government control with the effect of penalizing some groups more than others. The elderly, the undocumented and those from the Global South are contending with many unwanted effects. In terms of social class, the pandemic has meant that people who engage in blue collar or temporary work are adversely affected. Those in crowded areas or those that do not have access to regular housing are greatly affected, as well. Racial minorities and women face dire outcomes because they usually belong to the above categories. In order to tackle this challenge, it is advisable to fix inequalities and strengthen social protections. That way, there will be less suffering for those in disadvantaged positions. 



Maestripieri, L. (2021). The Covid-19 pandemics: Why intersectionality matters. Frontiers in Sociology. org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2021.642662/full”>

Peristadt, H. & Dingwall, R. (2020). Sociology as a lens on the pandemic and responses to it. Footnotes, 48(3).

Pleyers, G. (2020, Jun. 26). Global sociology. Global Dialogue.


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