This chapter notes the structural inequalities of contemporary capitalist and state practices that formed the context for the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows how the pandemic both revealed and amplified pre-existing racialized, classed, and gendered inequalities. Noting the unevenness of worker organizing across different spatial, historical, and sectoral contexts, it briefly reviews some contributions of the field of labour geography to the understanding of workers’ agency— the capacity to change employment conditions and even push for wider transformational change in workers' own interests. The chapter highlights how racial capitalism has continued to divide workers and how racialized people have often been structured into the lowest paid and most dangerous occupations. Building on Arundhati Roy’s concept of the pandemic as a portal, the chapter ends by advocating greater attention by future labour geographers to racial and class injustices in their own workplaces and to standing in solidarity with other workers seeking safer and more secure employment and progressive change more generally.


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Rogaly, B. & Schling, H. 2021, 'Labour geography, racial capitalism and the pandemic portal', COVID-19 and Similar Futures, pp. 381-385. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-70179-6_50

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Last updated: 03 October 2022
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