Research Mentor(s): Elisabetta Ferrari, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Digital Studies Institute, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 2 (11am – 11:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 5
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the US, many individuals have been unable to receive necessary resources due to economic struggles, concerns over contact with the virus, or a lack of governmental support in connecting with essential services. Mutual aid groups, who have played an active role in helping their communities for decades, have played an integral role in providing needed services with the knowledge that current systems and institutions have failed to provide these resources to Americans. This study analyzes the role of mutual aid and how different organizations have defined themselves during the pandemic. We examined and discussed academic literature on past and current mutual aid efforts and collected data, such as location, target populations, services, and self-definitions, about mutual aid organizations in 20 of the most populous metropolitan areas in the US. Data was collected through online research on organizations’ websites, social media pages, and newspaper articles and through thematic analysis. The analysis focuses on the definitions and agendas of mutual aid groups and how they differ from one another. By mapping the efforts of mutual aid groups and determining how they present themselves this study will increase discussions on community-level activism, inequalities within American society, and the flaws of established governance and institutions.