We derive the Wigner functions of polarized photons in the Coulomb gauge with the ħ expansion applied to quantum field theory, and identify side-jump effects for massless photons. We also discuss the photonic chiral vortical effect for the Chern-Simons current and zilch vortical effect for the zilch current in local thermal equilibrium as a consistency check for our formalism. The results are found to be in agreement with those obtained from different approaches. Moreover, using the real-time formalism, we construct the quantum kinetic theory (QKT) for polarized photons. By further adopting a specific power counting scheme for the distribution functions, we provide a more succinct form of an effective QKT. This photonic QKT involves quantum corrections associated with self-energy gradients in the collision term, which are analogous to the side-jump corrections pertinent to spin-orbit interactions in the chiral kinetic theory for massless fermions. The same theoretical framework can also be directly applied to weakly coupled gluons in the absence of background color fields.
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