Does Class and Place Still Matter in the UK? Covid-19 Suggests Yes

  • Ellen Brereton Leeds Beckett University


Covid-19, a virus first discovered in China in early 2020, was declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a pandemic on 11th March 2020. By the end of March 2022, some 186,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the UK (GOV.UK, 2022). In many ways, Covid-19 can be seen as late-modern risk in Beck’s (1992) terms. After numerous waves of infections, several mutations of the virus, and having to live through various lockdowns, it appeared that no one was immune to the risks posed by Covid-19 as we learnt to live within what was coined “the new normal”. However, this contribution aims to argue differently and explores Covid-19 in the UK arguing that, although everyone was at risk from Covid-19, these risks were unequally distributed and were largely dependent on social class and place, which helped to further reinforce existing structural inequalities. The limitations of Beck’s theory of risk society will be explored to look at how certain groups had an unequal impact on the level of risk faced during Covid-19. The impact of austerity in the UK over the past eleven years will also be explored to examine how its effects have helped to worsen the impact of Covid-19 for some groups.