Inequalities and Identity Processes in Crises: Recommendations for Facilitating Safe Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Br J Soc Psychol. 2020 Jun 25. doi: 10.1111/bjso.12400. Online ahead of print.


Structural inequalities and identity processes are pivotal to understanding public response to COVID-19. We discuss how identity processes can be used to promote community-level support, safe normative behaviour, and increase compliance with guidance. However, we caution how government failure to account for structural inequalities can alienate vulnerable groups, inhibit groups from being able to follow guidance, and lead to the creation of new groups in response to illegitimate treatment. Moreover, we look ahead to the longitudinal impacts of inequalities during pandemics and advise government bodies should address identity-based inequalities to mitigate negative relations with the public and subsequent collective protest.

Keywords: COVID-19; Identity processes; behaviour change; collective actions; coronavirus; inequality; leadership; social identities; social norms; societal inequality.