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Multidisciplinary and International Perspectives on Inequalities Raised by COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, stark social inequalities have increasingly been revealed and, in many cases, been exacerbated by the global health crisis.

This book explores these inequalities, identifying three thematic strands: power and governance, gender, and marginalised communities. By examining these three themes in relation to the effects of the pandemic, the book uncovers how unequal the pandemic truly is. It brings together invaluable insights from a range of international scholars across multiple disciplines to critically analyse how these inequalities have played out in the context of COVID-19 as a first step towards achieving social justice.

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During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic took hold globally, claiming countless lives, yet more widely throwing everyday life into disarray for countless more. As the pandemic unfolded, it became more and more obvious that while everyone was susceptible to contracting the virus, there were stark social inequalities being brought to the fore in many areas outside simply direct health consequences. The topic of COVID-19 led to an explosion of scholarship. However, while many studies have focused on the medical impact of the virus as a global health crisis, few have considered the multifaceted, international and multidisciplinary issues around social inequalities connected to the pandemic, its handling and its effects. The originality in this volume is thus its consideration of these issues in relation to the pandemic, focusing on thematic strands to gain a greater understanding of these underlying problems, including how the law, or absence of it, has exacerbated inequalities. Three strands emerged from considering inequalities beyond just the virus itself: on power and governance, on gender and for marginalized communities on the basis of race, ethnicity and migration status. It is under these three themes that this collection uncovers how unequal the pandemic truly is.

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This collection examines social inequalities brought to stark attention by the COVID-19 pandemic under three thematic strands: power and governance, gender, and marginalized communities. This project brings together a range of international scholars from multiple disciplines (law, sociology and politics) to showcase a diversity of perspectives on these themes. The unknowns around this virus and the scale of the epidemic make COVID-19 and its inequalities a timely subject. Understanding each of these issues from the perspective of multiple disciplines, with law at its centre, is the first step towards tackling them concretely and achieving social justice. The thematic coherence on social inequalities affecting vulnerable groups from international and multidisciplinary lenses is the book’s central feature.

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This collection examines social inequalities brought to stark attention by the COVID-19 pandemic under three thematic strands: power and governance, gender, and marginalized communities. This project brings together a range of international scholars from multiple disciplines (law, sociology and politics) to showcase a diversity of perspectives on these themes. The unknowns around this virus and the scale of the epidemic make COVID-19 and its inequalities a timely subject. Understanding each of these issues from the perspective of multiple disciplines, with law at its centre, is the first step towards tackling them concretely and achieving social justice. The thematic coherence on social inequalities affecting vulnerable groups from international and multidisciplinary lenses is the book’s central feature.

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This collection examines social inequalities brought to stark attention by the COVID-19 pandemic under three thematic strands: power and governance, gender, and marginalized communities. This project brings together a range of international scholars from multiple disciplines (law, sociology and politics) to showcase a diversity of perspectives on these themes. The unknowns around this virus and the scale of the epidemic make COVID-19 and its inequalities a timely subject. Understanding each of these issues from the perspective of multiple disciplines, with law at its centre, is the first step towards tackling them concretely and achieving social justice. The thematic coherence on social inequalities affecting vulnerable groups from international and multidisciplinary lenses is the book’s central feature.

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This collection examines social inequalities brought to stark attention by the COVID-19 pandemic under three thematic strands: power and governance, gender, and marginalized communities. This project brings together a range of international scholars from multiple disciplines (law, sociology and politics) to showcase a diversity of perspectives on these themes. The unknowns around this virus and the scale of the epidemic make COVID-19 and its inequalities a timely subject. Understanding each of these issues from the perspective of multiple disciplines, with law at its centre, is the first step towards tackling them concretely and achieving social justice. The thematic coherence on social inequalities affecting vulnerable groups from international and multidisciplinary lenses is the book’s central feature.

Restricted access

This collection examines social inequalities brought to stark attention by the COVID-19 pandemic under three thematic strands: power and governance, gender, and marginalized communities. This project brings together a range of international scholars from multiple disciplines (law, sociology and politics) to showcase a diversity of perspectives on these themes. The unknowns around this virus and the scale of the epidemic make COVID-19 and its inequalities a timely subject. Understanding each of these issues from the perspective of multiple disciplines, with law at its centre, is the first step towards tackling them concretely and achieving social justice. The thematic coherence on social inequalities affecting vulnerable groups from international and multidisciplinary lenses is the book’s central feature.

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This chapter reflects on the work of the multidisciplinary and international contributors to this collection by putting their contributions into wider perspective. It does so by offering avenues for future research that look for solutions to eliminate inequalities beyond the context of just the COVID-19 pandemic using the lens of intersectionality. Indeed, the overall aim of this collection is to look beyond the virus, and this chapter seeks to situate the contributions in this collection into the fabric of everyday society. In this way, we can progress towards social justice.

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This Introduction defines our research objectives and the key concepts underpinning our inquiry. We look at reforms in contemporary welfare states, which include England and Canada (Denhardt and Denhardt, 2000; Bejerot and Hasselbladh, 2011; Ferlie and McGivern, 2013) and on their implications for the potential roles and manifestations of the agency of medical doctors (Denis et al, 2016).

The question of healthcare reforms has attracted growing interest among policy analysts and health researchers (Greener, 2009; Ham, 2009; Lazar et al, 2013; Tuohy 2018; Germain, 2019). Reform is a privileged mode of intervention used by liberal democracies to intervene in various policy areas (Rocher, 2008). In their comparative analysis of public management reforms, Pollitt and Bouckaert (2017) define reforms as ‘deliberate changes to the structures and processes of a system with the objective of getting them (in some sense) to run better’ (Pollitt and Bouckaert, 2017: 2). In the healthcare context, this means improving patient experience, healthcare professionals’ satisfaction with work, population health and long-term system viability. Pollitt and Bouckaert’s analysis suggests that reform is embedded in a complex web of institutional arrangements and political processes that shape the destiny of reformative ideas and reformers (Marmor and Wendt, 2012; Tuohy, 2018; van Gestel et al, 2018). As suggested by Mechanic and Rochefort (1996), comparable healthcare systems of various nations face similar challenges but their responses vary according to national context and institutions.

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A Comparative Study of England and Canada

This timely comparative study assesses the role of medical doctors in reforming publicly funded health services in England and Canada.

Respected authors from health and legal backgrounds on both sides of the Atlantic consider how the high status of the profession uniquely influences reforms. With summaries of developments in models of care, and the participation of doctors since the inception of publicly funded healthcare systems, they ask whether professionals might be considered allies or enemies of policy-makers.

With insights for future health policy and research, the book is an important contribution to debates about the complex relationship between doctors and the systems in which they practice.

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