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Sonja Avlijaš Security for whom? Inequality and Human Dignity in Times of the Pandemic

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Abstract

Desire for security is an intrinsic feature of modern capitalism, rather than contradictory to it. It is very human, and capitalist, to want to protect what one already has (including own life). Not doing it would be considered irresponsible and a form of a gamble. But some have more opportunities to protect themselves than others. Our economic and welfare policies are generally status preserving—inclined to support those who are ‘too big to fail’ and skewed towards the elderly at the expense of youth. Existing social and intergenerational inequalities are reinforced and deepened by the measures adopted to tackle the pandemic. The traditionally marginalised groups are also disproportionately burdened with social reproduction, as the state and the private sector withdraw from the provision of care services. As crises tend to exacerbate both material needs and pre-existing inequalities, should we be surprised to see a powerful and angry social pushback driven by the Black Lives Matter and associated movements? Will these challenges to the status quo lead us to a more equal and just post-pandemic world, or will we succumb to further social polarisation and conflict? Some insights may be hiding in the intersectional and interdependent effects of this pandemic.

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