Call for Papers :: Special issue :: Inequalities, vulnerabilities, and discrimination in the context of COVID19


Among the most pressing political issues of our age are inequality, exclusion and discrimination. Unfortunatelly they are on the rise in the context of COVID 19. There are several dimensions involved in this approach, and the most important one is that of “exclusions”.

According to Beall and Piron (2004) exclusion from social, political and economic institutions results from a complex and dynamic set of processes and relationships that prevent individuals or groups from accessing resources, participating in society and asserting their rights. There is a process of exclusion and agency involved – the behaviour of particular agents and institutions leads to the exclusion of certain groups. Indeed some include this as part of the definition of ocial exclusion:

“[Social exclusion is] the process through which individuals or groups are wholly or partially excluded from full participation in the society in which they live” (de Haan and Maxwell, 1998).

“Social exclusion occurs when the institutions that allocate resources and assign value operate in ways that systematically deny some groups the resources and recognition that would allow them to participate fully in social life” (Zeitlyn, 2004)

The identification and characteristics of excluded groups are necessarily society dependent. Most social excluded groups are not only deprived in multiple ways but also have different characteristics (other than their deprivations) from others in the society in which they live, which enables them to be identified as a group and discriminated against.In an interesting article, Hoff and Pandey (2006) showed that a discriminatory regime affects not only the structure of opportunities open to different social groups, but also the status and social meanings assigned to those groups-their social identities. If these identities influence behavior, then even after opportunities have been equalized across groups, the discriminatory regime will have persistent effects.

Social vulnerability taps on a broad range of susceptibilities at the individual and community level: lack of access to resources and lifelines, insufficient information and well-being; and certain beliefsand customs (de Oliveira Mendes, 2009). Also, some indicators measuring deficiencies in infrastructure make people with compromised statuses more socially vulnerable to social, economic and enviromental hazards (Hewitt, 2014). On the other hand, social vulnerability is context-dependent and is often associated with the degree of exposure to extreme events, and with the preparedness and resilience of individuals and social groups (Wisner, et all., 1993).

Is the current COVID-19 pandemic increasing or decreasing inequalities, vulnerabilities and discrimination in present societies? How steep is the social gradient of the COVID-19 impact? What will be the long run impact of COVID-19 pandemic on markets, policies, and institutions? How to evaluate the joint effects of the pandemic on inequalities, vulnerabilities and discrimination? In our opinion, the answers at the above-mentioned questions could increase the understanding about inequality, vulnerability and discrimination in present days societies.

The French economist Frédéric Bastiat stressed that every policy, “produces not only one effect, but a series of effects.” The immediate and intended effects are what he calls “the seen,” while the indirect, unintended consequences are “the unseen.” “The seen” usually gets all the attention, while “the unseen” often goes neglected.

In the COVID-19 pandemic, “the seen” are the victims of the virus and those who hopefully avoid spreading or catching the disease because of the lockdowns. They are, without a doubt, worthy of our care and attention.

But we also must not ignore “the unseen”: the millions of human beings who, as a result of the lockdowns, have become victims of domestic violence, drug overdoses, depression, suicide, and more.

“The lives ruined or snuffed out by the lockdowns deserve better than that. They deserve to be seen” (Miltimore, 2020).

The unintended and unforeseenconsequences of the COVID-19 lockdowns have been severe: mass unemployment, increased drug overdoses and suicides, and widespread social unrest are only a few of them.

As the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations have emphasized, countries must incorporate a gender perspective in their responses to the COVID-19 crisis. Several countries and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have already taken innovative steps in this direction. New campaigns also use social media to spread awareness of resources available to survivors, including hotlines, text message–based reporting, and mobile applications.

Domestic violence in extreme individual and collective forms (genocide, femicide, homicide) was a global pandemic long before the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the United Nations, 243 million women and girls between fifteen and forty-nine years worldwide were subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner in the last twelve months.


In order to bring into the foreground of the scene the numerous seen and unseen inequalities, vulnerabilities and discrimination in present societies brought by the global COVID-19 crisis (young and elderly men and women, children, disabled persons) the articles could consider several axes for reflection as well as for empirical case studies:


- the macrostructural level of governmental management of the essential problems (the COVID crisis): legislative changes, media representations and agenda setting;

- the microstructural level of family dramas and difficulties (life stories, family interviews, etc.);

- the mesostructural level of group identity and activity (active NGO’s, solidarity youth or neighbors’ groups, etc.)


The studies could focus upon the above-mentioned axes or could approach others from the ide range of the old and new inequalities, vulnerabilities and discrimination brought by COVID-19 in contemporary societies (Lombard and McMillan, 2018:3).


Deadline for submission of the articles: 15.11. 2020


Please submit the article following the general requirements available at:


Selective references

Wisner, B. and Luce, H. (1993). Disaster vulnerability: scale, power, and daily life, Geo J. 20(1993) 127–140.

Wisner, P. Blaikie, T. Cannon, I. Davis (1994). At Risk: Natural Hazards, People'sVulnerability, and Disasters, Routledge, London.

Beall, J. and L.H. Piron. (2004). DFID Social Exclusion Review. London: LSE/ODI

Bettinger-Lopez, C. and Bro, A. (2020). A Double Pandemic: Domestic Violence in the Age of COVID-19. Available at:

Crettiez, X (2010) Les formes de la violence Paris La Decouverte. coll Reperes

Daligand, L. (2016). Les violences conjugales, Presses Universitaires de France, Collections Que sais-je ?, Paris, 2016

de Haan, A. and S. Maxwell (1998). Poverty and social exclusion in North and South. IDS Bulletin, 29(1).

de Oliveira Mendes, J. M. (2009). Social vulnerability indexes as planning tools: beyond the preparedness paradigm. Journal of Risk Research, 12(1), 43-58.

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Hewitt, K. (2014). Regions of risk: A geographical introduction to disasters. Routledge.

Higgins, N. (2020). Coronavirus: when home gets violent under lockdown in Europe. BBC News [Brussels] 2020 Apr. 13. Available at:

Hilder, S. and Bettinson, V. (2016). Domestic Violence.Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Protection, Prevention and Intervention, Palgrave MacMillan

Hoff, K., and Pandey, P. (2006). Discrimination, social identity, and durable inequalities. American Economic Review, 96(2), 206-211.

Jaspard, M (2011). La violence contre les femmes, La Découverte, Paris.

Johnson, H., Ollus, N. and Nevalla, S. (2008). Violence against Women. An International Perspective, New York, Springer.

Johnson, M. (2008). A Typology of Domestic Violence: Intimate Terrorism, Violent Resistance, and Situational Couple Violence, Northeastern University Press

Lombard, N. (2018). Introduction to Gender and Violence. In: Lombard Sarah (ed) The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Violence, Routledge NY,pp.1-13

Rinfret-Raynor, M., Lesieux, E., Cousineau, M.M., Gauthier, S., and Harper, E. (2014). Violence envers les femmes – Réalités complexes et nouveaux enjeux dans un monde en transformation, Presses de l’Université du Québec, Collection Problèmes sociaux et interventions sociales, Québec.

Taub, A. (2020). A new COVID-19 crisis: domestic abuse rises worldwide. The New York Times 2020 Apr.6. Available at: