Cultural processes of covid inequality: the case of immigrants in Sweden
You are warmly invited to a seminar with Andrea Voyer, Stockholm University.
Abstract In this seminar, I present research I conducted with Vanessa Barker. We apply Lamont´s theorizing on the cultural processes of inequality to the critical case of COVID inequality during the first wave of the pandemic in Sweden – a period in which COVID-19 cases were concentrated among immigrants and immigrant neighborhoods. We identify three recognition gaps associated with cultural processes of inequality identified in the previous literature: the racialization of immigrants, and the stigmatization and evaluation of immigrant spaces. We further identify two previously unidentified recognition gaps: resignification in which the State's coronavirus response was directed only toward ethnic Swedish people; and inversion, in which higher death rates among immigrants were relabeled as a natural and acceptable cause of COVID deaths. In addition to contributing to the theory and applications of the cultural-processes framework, we demonstrate the value of a focus on recognition for studies of social inequality, including health inequality. The recognition gaps we identify in this paper are practical and solvable problems. In comparison with the challenges of managing large-scale economic redistribution or abolishing prejudice and stigmatization by addressing bias on a person-by-person basis, anticipating and counteracting the cultural processes of inequality is an actionable pathway to pursuing more equal societies.