Community Cooperation in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
(Funded by the National Science Foundation.)
In most major disasters, people in communities come together to respond to the challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic is a major disaster, but a pandemic is different because it turns the usual face-to-face community cooperation itself into a source of threat, namely, the risk of infection. This project addresses a novel question: What new forms of cooperation do people develop when they cannot easily come together in traditional ways? The project will study community leaders and residents in the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana, places with much experience in responding to disasters, but which have consequently developed significant traditions of innovation. The project will identify (a) innovative strategies that community leaders are pursuing in response to the pandemic and economic dislocations – which, notably, emphasize synergies of mutual assistance under conditions of social distancing – and (b) the impact that the pandemic and the economic downturn are having on the general public: how people respond to the new initiatives, and how well assistance is getting through. The project will identify best practices and promising innovations that can be shared with other communities, thus informing community leaders nationwide who can formulate and implement new policies to facilitate recovery, thus promoting safety and security in our society.
This project investigates what new forms of cooperation people develop in the face of disaster when they cannot easily come together in traditional ways. It uses two sets of qualitative directed, open-ended, in-depth interviews. First, the project will interview about 15-30 community leaders in New Orleans, a city with broad experience in community response to disasters, building on project leaders' extensive contacts with community leaders, developed over 15 years of research and continually updated. Second, the project will use Louisiana State University (LSU) undergraduates to interview about 100-200 friends and family in the general public about their life conditions in the time of the pandemic. The diversity of LSU students will be leveraged to obtain a diverse, qualitative sample across income, race, gender, and age lines. The project will conduct three waves of interviews with each group over a 12 month period, following the course of the pandemic over that time. The project will analyze these in-depth interviews using qualitative data analysis software, seeking themes and patterns of community response. Findings will contribute to sociological theories on disasters and community organization.
- LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, "Looking to Louisiana Communities for Good Ideas: A Grassroots Approach for How to Cope with the Pandemic," July 7, 2020. Here or here.
There are two guides for interviewers:
- For students doing paid interviewing with our research team, here.
- For students doing interviewing for extra credit in classes, here.
It is important to use the guide that fits what you are doing. The guides are somewhat similar, but they have important differences. If you use the wrong guide, you might not get class credit or get paid. So please use the right guide! :)
If you are an LSU undergraduate and you are interested in doing paid interviewing with our team on this project, please contact Oliver Garretson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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