American Sociological Association

ASA Footnotes

A publication of the American Sociological AssociationASA News & Events
May/June 2020

Sociologists and Sociology during COVID-19

Nancy Kidd, Executive Director, American Sociological Association

Covid-19As we began planning the first issue of Footnotes to be produced entirely from home, it was self-evident that we should focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. I feel confident in saying that not a single member of ASA has been unaffected by this crisis, and some in profound and heartbreaking ways. We have been affected both personally and professionally, and our work as sociologists has also had an impact on response to the crisis.  In this special issue we have sought to illuminate the impact across these domains. 

We start with the personal. In this issue you will find brief first-person narratives from sociologists around the world, such as Angela Hoekstra, an adjunct professor in Prague juggling the responsibilities of online teaching and parenting young children; Timothy Pippert, a faculty member on sabbatical in Minnesota worrying about the impact of the pandemic on his extended family; and Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, a graduate student finishing her dissertation while contributing to the care of her hard-hit tribal community. These stories provide a window into the range of experiences sociologists are having during this period, and I found them moving. 

The pandemic has created a host of challenges for our professional endeavors and here you will find articles that address the approaches some of our colleagues are using to respond. The difficulty of the sudden and disruptive move to virtual instruction is highlighted in several articles. Challenges to research productivity are also addressed. Many scholars are unable to engage in ethnographic fieldwork or access the archives on which they typically rely, for example. We also include pieces that focus on challenges specific to high school teachers of sociology, graduate students, and contingent faculty as well as challenges in particular settings within higher education, including community colleges, BA-granting departments, and PhD-granting departments.  

Sociology also informs us about the crisis, and much of this issue is devoted to highlighting sociological insight on COVID-19 and its myriad dimensions. The intellectual backbone of ASA is its sections, and we turned to them to create a compilation of articles related to COVID-19 that are reflective of the breadth of our discipline. Each section was invited to make a submission, and we were pleased to receive 35 articles.

This issue of Footnotes represents a truly collective effort by the association’s members, and I thank all the authors for their hard work at a time when an added task is especially difficult. Thanks too to the section leaders for their enthusiasm for this endeavor and their willingness to help identify authors. 

The pieces in this special issue are interesting and consequential now and will likely continue to be revelatory as we reflect on this moment over time. This special issue was planned, and the articles were submitted, before protests in response to systemic racism and police violence began.  But the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people and communities of color lays bare the ways in which the protests are very much related to the pandemic. The special issue is publicly available, so individuals and policymakers can draw upon these pieces to guide their efforts to understand and manage this global crisis. Collectively, the articles here make a powerful statement about sociology as a discipline and all it has to contribute to addressing critical societal issues.

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