Academic Literature

“It Reflects the Society In Which We Live, Except Now Everything is Accentuated”: Youth, Social Inequities, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

2022

“It Reflects the Society In Which We Live, Except Now Everything is Accentuated”: Youth, Social Inequities, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been an extraordinary moment of uncertainty and rapid transformation. The effects lockdowns had on youths’ mental and physical health, as well as the challenges they posed for young peoples’ learning, were of great concern. It quickly became clear that government responses to COVID-19, in particular regarding the social determinants of health, were not equally experienced across all social groups. This paper adopts an interdisciplinary lens at the intersection of health and education and uses Max Weber’s lifestyle theory to analyze the inequitable experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. We examine most directly social inequities in education during the first wave of COVID-19 and explore long-term effects on youths’ educational opportunities, health, and well-being.

Our results show (1) clear differences in early access to education for youth who attended public and private institutions in Quebec during the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) access to the internet and computers offset learning opportunities for students across Quebec throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; and (3) few of the differences experienced during the pandemic were based on youth’s behaviours, or life choices, but rather stemmed from differences in material and structural opportunities, based largely, but not solely, on what type of school the youth attended (public or private). The way in which the COVID-19 pandemic was handled by the Quebec education system deepened existing social inequities in education between private and public school attendees. Given the importance of education as one of the main determinants of health, particularly during transition periods such as adolescence, we must ensure that future policies do not repeat past mistakes.

Frohlich, K. L., Thompson, J. A., Fraser, S. L., Dupéré, V., & Beauregard, N. (2022). “It Reflects the Society In Which We Live, Except Now Everything is Accentuated”: Youth, Social Inequities, and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 113(6), 795-805. https://link.springer.com/article/10.17269/s41997-022-00703-y

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