25 posts categorized "COVID-19"

September 21, 2020

Health, Racial Inequality, and Residential Segregation

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos, Sociology Doctoral Student at Rutgers University – New Brunswick

We often talk about health as a strictly biological concept. After all, poor health outcomes such as heart disease and cancer are heavily dependent on biological factors such as our genetic makeup and our age. Public discourse is also rife with notions that viruses, such as COVID-19, “do not discriminate” and affect all of us equally – regardless of the vastly different social circumstances under which people in the U.S. are living.

Sociologists, however, have long emphasized that health outcomes are far from strictly biological. In fact, the subfield of medical sociology – one of the American Sociological Association’s largest sections – is entirely devoted to the study of how social contexts and structures influence health, illness, and healthcare. Although certain poor health outcomes are indeed influenced by factors outside of the social world, medical sociologists stress the importance of social influence in examining e.g. who gets sick and why.

Continue reading "Health, Racial Inequality, and Residential Segregation" »

August 05, 2020

Gender, Ethnicity, and the COVID Recession

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The recent economic downturn has impacted millions of Americans. As of this writing, about 30 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits. Those earning less than $40,000 have endured the greatest job losses; according to the Federal Reserve, 40 percent of these workers have lost their jobs in recent months. In contrast, just over one in ten households earning more than $100,000 have experienced job losses.

You might have seen news reports that women have been more likely to experience job losses during the current recession. The Great Recession of a decade ago hit construction and finance particularly hard, and came to be known as a “mancession” because those fields tend to be male dominated.

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July 20, 2020

Bandage, Sort, and Hustle: What is it like to be an Ambulance Worker?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The recent COVID crisis has drawn our attention to the risks health care providers take in treating patients. Ambulance personnel are on the front lines, often the first responders in treating injuries and illnesses.

As this recent PBS Newshour interview reveals, not only are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in high-outbreak areas regularly exposed to COVID, they bear the emotional scars of feeling like there is little they can do to help the COVID patients they transport, all while earning relatively little pay.

Continue reading "Bandage, Sort, and Hustle: What is it like to be an Ambulance Worker?" »

June 29, 2020

Collective Trauma and COVID-19

Liana tuller author photoBy Liana Renée Tuller,  Research Fellow at Northeastern University's Brudnick Center on Conflict and Violence

Numerous newspaper and magazine articles, health advisories, blogs, radio segments, and op-eds have dubbed COVID-19 a “collective trauma.” What does that mean? And, if our city, our country, and our world is, indeed, experiencing a collective trauma, what lessons can previous collective traumas offer us to help us cope?

Unquestionably, COVID-19 has affected people’s psychological state, not only through grief when loved ones die, but also through the stress of job loss, fear of being infected, isolation imposed by social distancing, and anxiety that life will never return to normal. These emotions, communally experienced, could indeed be described as traumatic.

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June 22, 2020

Race, COVID-19, and Payday Loans: How “Race-Neutral” Policies Reproduce Racism

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos, Sociology Doctoral Student, Rutgers University

More than three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become abundantly clear that the virus has impacted the U.S. along racial and class lines. Previous posts on the blog have already commented on how people of color – Black Americans and Latinx immigrants, specifically – are at much higher risk of COVID-19 than White people. This is in part the result of significant class-related inequalities: people of color are vastly overrepresented among those deemed to be “essential workers” who can’t work from home, have less access to healthcare, and are more likely to be using means of transportation that involve potential exposure (e.g. taking the subway or bus). Of course, poor Whites are also at risk for these same reasons. There is no doubt that the long-lasting economic repercussions of the pandemic will also hit these populations the hardest.

Continue reading "Race, COVID-19, and Payday Loans: How “Race-Neutral” Policies Reproduce Racism" »

June 17, 2020

The Generalized Other During COVID-19

Jessica Poling author photoBy Jessica Poling

It is an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted our social lives and how we interact with others. Mandated to self-isolate, in-person interactions have been replaced with countless Zoom meetings, Facetime calls, and virtual happy hours and game nights.

The limited face-to-face interactions we do have are defined by new social norms. Suddenly, tasks that used to be mundane are defined by necessary, potentially life-altering decisions such as: should I go into public today? When should I wear a mask? When should I wash my hands? How close should or shouldn’t I get to other people?

In essence, how we think about our own behavior and actions in interaction with others has changed dramatically. How we address these questions is largely guided by external expectations, both formal (like those from the Center of Disease Control) and informal (such as peer-pressure from other affected citizens). In both cases, our day-to-day lives now invoke constant reflection on the impact of our actions on others.

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June 08, 2020

Widening the Digital Divide

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Last December, my neighborhood experienced a power outage for about 12 hours. It was quite an inconvenience: I had no Internet access, particularly after my cell phone battery died. Our heat wouldn’t turn on and it got a bit chilly inside. I had just been to the grocery store the day before and was concerned about a refrigerator full of food going bad.

Even at the time, I knew I was fortunate. I didn’t know why the power was out, but I was pretty certain that crews were working to restore it. I didn’t need to access the Internet or contact anyone, and since I live in southern California, even a chilly December day is pretty mild by winter standards. And having a refrigerator full of food is always a privilege, as is knowing it could be replaced without having to sacrifice another necessity.

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June 05, 2020

The New Normal?

Myron Strong author photoBy Myron Strong

Over the past few months, the term “new normal” has been used as we adapt to some new norms and ways of life as a result of the pandemic. While these norms are the result of various changes in our society, I don’t see a new normal.

A new normal would imply a radical shift in social structure. Rather, what I see is a magnification of the many ways our society fails to equally distribute access and opportunities. The pandemic has not brought forward a new normal, but has allowed America’s structural oppressions and social problems to be highlighted.

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June 03, 2020

A Sociological Celebration of Baseball

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

I love baseball. It’s always been in my life. In childhood it was playing Little League baseball, watching Major League Baseball games, and playing the All Star Baseball board game. As I got older it became attending minor league and major league games. Now, as a parent, it’s playing catch with my kids and watching one of them play on a team. While my 12-year-old is drawn to soccer, my 9-year-old has a passion for baseball. In any other spring, he’d be busy with baseball practice and starting a season of games. But in this spring and summer, we don’t know if he’ll get to play baseball, as COVID-19 has interrupted life as we know it. We’re still playing catch at home, and his brother tosses wiffle balls to him in the backyard, but there’s no way to replicate playing the game.

As I reflect on our pause from baseball, I’m sad for all that he’s missing. First and foremost, I think of time missed with his teammates. If we remember not to take youth sports too seriously, we appreciate it as a form of play. If we don’t get caught up in wins and losses, we see value in the simple act of kids playing together. They socialize. They laugh. They fool around. They run around and burn energy. They get dirty. They have fun.

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May 25, 2020

What the COVID-19 Crisis Means for Work Expectations: A Sociology Student’s Perspective

author photo Jackson tumlin author photoBy Colby King and Jackson Tumlin (sociology student, University of South Carolina Upstate)

I am always working to make my Sociology of Work and Organizations class meaningful to students by, among other things, getting them to connect with people who work in areas they are interested in. In the course this spring, though, as the COVID-19 crisis upended the economy and changed how so many of us do work, I got to see how students were applying course concepts in how they were thinking about work.

In this class we typically cover how work is changing, including the development of the new economy, which Stephen Sweet and Peter Meiksins describe as involving new patterns in work, including things like flexible work arrangements and interactive service work. We study how technological change and flexible work arrangements have made new kinds of work possible. Many of these new jobs are more rewarding for workers. We also see how, even with these new patterns of work, many aspects of the old manufacturing-based economy, which emerged from the Industrial Revolution, remain.

Continue reading "What the COVID-19 Crisis Means for Work Expectations: A Sociology Student’s Perspective" »

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