The Effects of COVID: An Intensification of Social Stratification

After the world was disrupted by the unexpected, prevalent force, which we have now familiarised as ‘COVID-19’, many problems became clear, creating worry and fear simultaneously in the minds of millions. Rather than challenges arising, I think if anything, the pandemic has catalysed the issues that already existed prior to the sudden realisation that the world is facing a setback. At the core of these challenges, lies the issues surrounding social stratification; the immense division of people through a hierarchical categorization based on the premises of social class, gender, ethnicity and race. The UK labour market has escalated in its class divide during this pandemic, where key workers and many low-paid workers have had no access to adequate sick pay, whilst risking their lives to maintain the economy for utilitaristic purposes. Statutory sick pay is currently £96 per week, which is approximately a fifth of average weekly earnings, making it one of the least generous sick pay rates in Europe. Above this, around 1.8 million employees don’t qualify for it because they don’t earn enough, and a further 5 million miss out because they’re self-employed. The World Bank has also estimated that a total of as many as 150 million in 2021 will be pushed into extreme poverty. It is no surprise that certain groups within society are prone to poverty, whilst a ‘hidden’ minority continue to dominate what is left of the economy, at the expense of others. The unequal distribution of wealth is in equilibrium to the distribution of power, as millions have been silenced. Whilst race, gender and ethnicity play into these statistics as denominations, the failure of the economy and misguidance of the government in meeting the needs of all members within society, are undoubtedly the fundamental disasters, which have been provoked by the pandemic.




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