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At the 2014 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Executive Officer Sally Hillsman, met with the Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) and suggested that it was time to revise the Code of Ethics. Revisions were last made to the Code 20 years ago, and a great deal of change had taken place. Regulatory and technological advances have had striking impacts on the field. At the time, the Department of Health and Human Services was about to announce changes to The Common Rule, which governs the vast majority of human subjects research efforts.
After a messy, partisan fight in the State Legislature and State Supreme Court, Wisconsin held an in-person election on April 7, 2020. At that point the state had confirmed 2,500 COVID-19 cases and lost at least 92 people to the virus, with the majority of the suffering concentrated in Milwaukee’s Black community. As a poll worker in Madison, I spent election day behind a Plexiglas window, wearing a homemade mask, checking voters’ names in the poll book. Some voters came wearing masks and gloves. Some wrapped their IDs in plastic to avoid contact.
The COVID-19 crisis highlights the importance of what we do as sociologists, throwing into sharp relief the dangers of adhering to individualism and disregarding the social mechanisms of cooperation and scientific/occupational expertise that organize the myriad situations of everyday life. As the pandemic reveals the inequalities and contradictions in our society, sociologists engaged in ethnomethodology and conversation analysis (EM/CA) are uniquely placed to examine what happens when taken-for-granted assumptions and interactional practices change rapidly.