Solidarity in Place? Hope and Despair in Postpandemic Membership
"Initially portrayed as the “great equalizer,” the COVID-19 pandemic has proved anything but. This essay recounts the sobering social disparities and vulnerabilities that the pandemic has exposed, especially when it comes to the inequalities that are baked into existing membership regimes, before turning to narratives of hope and democratic renewal. My discussion shines a spotlight on the relationship between borders, (im)mobility, and struggles for recognition and inclusion that have long been central to the practice of citizenship. Focusing on pathways to the acquisition of full membership status for those who are currently denied it, I will deploy logics and policies that have already begun to take shape in different parts of the world, with the goal of amplifying their effects and multiplying their scale. I identify three possible trajectories for postpandemic recovery, two of which offer ways to enhance equality of status and public standing by enlarging the circle of membership: first, through contribution (or what I will term “jus contribuere”), and second, by highlighting what we might call “solidarity in place.” The third reaction, which we might call the “stratification of membership,” pulls in the opposite direction by sharply redrawing the lines—legal, economic, social—that have distinguished insiders from outsiders, and exacerbated patterns of stratification and inequality of status and opportunity that predate the pandemic."