Dying, Surviving, and Thriving through the Pandemic: Theorizing Covid-19 Inequities across Structural Domains of Racism, Capitalism, and Sexism

When and Where

Wednesday, April 05, 2023 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Room 247
UTSG Sociology Department


Dr Whitney Pirtle, Associate Professor of Sociology and the McArthur Foundation Chair in International Justice and Human Rights at the University of California, Merced


The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, but not equally. Some have died, some have survived, and a few even seem to thrive. Structural domains of power encompass large-scale, interlocking institutions and systems, which create, organize, and reproduce unequal subordination and vulnerability over time. Using theoretical frameworks informed broadly by Black radical thought traditions, the talk overviews how structural domains of racism, capitalism, and sexism shape health during the Covid-19 pandemic. The talk will also demonstrate an empirical analysis that utilizes the 2019 and 2020 waves of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey to examine whether the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with changes to daily activity limitations due to poor physical or mental health, and whether those changes were patterned by structural inequalities such as structural racism and/or sexism. Collectively, the discussion helps think through equitable interventions that might help more thrive.


Dr. Whitney Pirtle is an Associate Professor of Sociology and McArthur Foundation Chair in International Justice and Human Rights at the University of California, Merced, where she also directs the Sociology of Health and Equity (SHE) Lab. Her latest research includes writing on Covid-19 pandemic inequities from the standpoint of the Black Radical Tradition. She is the co-editor, with Zakiya Luna, of Black Feminist Sociology: Perspectives and Praxis with Routledge Press. She is currently working on two book manuscripts, one of race in post-apartheid South Africa and the other is under contract with Polity Press tentatively titled, Black Identities: The Expansiveness of Blackness in the US.