Professor Corey Fields, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology,Georgetown University
Title: “Talking about It and Being about It: Exploring Individual and Organizational Responses to Summer 2020”
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Rouss Hall Room 410
COVID-19 and nationwide protests over racial injustice were the defining stories of Summer 2020. As ubiquitous as both issues were in the US, they did not necessarily generate similar responses. This new project attempts to capture and analyze responses to both issues at the individual and organizational level. The research draws on two separate data sources, interviews with a nationally representative sample of US residents and public statements from Fortune 500 companies. Both data sources suggest that although there was broad awareness and acknowledgement of both COVID-19 and protests over racial injustice, they triggered very different responses. At the individual level, race and ethnicity were important drivers of responses across both issues. In contrast, organizational responded differently depending on the issue, not the characteristics of the organization. Across both levels of response, the summer protests about policing and racial justice mostly triggered calls for talk and conversation among White individuals and all corporations. In contrast, individual and organizational responses to COVID-19 focused on actions that were taken to manage life in the pandemic. The data illustrate parallels between individual and organizational responses that position COVID-19 as an issue that triggered actions, while situating racial justice as an issue that generates conversation.