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.
© 2020 The Authors. British Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society.