Image: Belkin & Co / Adobe

Covid-19 has upended societies and dramatically altered everyday life across the globe. Our present circumstances, while unprecedented, have been profoundly shaped by persistent societal realities—such as entrenched racial and economic inequality, the proliferation of misinformation, and anxieties about the ability of the world’s democracies to confront major crises. In-depth social understanding will be vital to apprehending the crisis and charting a path forward.

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Initiatives

Opportunities

Deadline: June 1, 2020

In partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation, rapid-response grants support innovative research projects using remote methods, on key issues—“social distancing,” governance, inequality, religion, political economy, and technology—that contribute to analysis of the impact of Covid-19 globally. Projects focused on groups most affected by the pandemic are especially encouraged.

Deadline: June 16, 2020

Supported by Omidyar Network, the Social Data Research Fellowship and the Social Data Dissertation Fellowship seek to encourage multifaceted pathways for the collection and analysis of social data, with the larger aim of cultivating robust research on technology and society. Applications that investigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are encouraged.

Covid-19 and the Social Sciences Essay Forum

Starting with SSRC president Alondra Nelson’s reflections on “Society after Pandemic,” this series of essays explores the human, social, political, and ethical dimensions of Covid-19. These pieces call attention to how social research can shed light on the short- and long-term effects of the pandemic and what can be done to improve responses, both now and in the future.

Society after Pandemic

The question of how to reopen our societies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic poses special questions for social researchers. How do the social conditions exposed, exacerbated, and created by the novel coronavirus demand that we substantively rethink our ideas of society and, therefore, some of the prevailing assumptions of social science?

Covid-19 in Africa

This series brings together the research and reflections of fellows of SSRC’s Africa programs, scholars, practitioners, and activists on the nature, impacts and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa, including its local-global connections.

Democracy and Pandemics

The spread of the novel coronavirus across the globe poses an enormous public health and economic crisis; similarly, it is a crisis of, and for governance. How is Covid-19 impacting democratic governance? What does the current crisis tell us about democratic strengths and weaknesses under states of emergency?

Social Research and Insecurity

Debates about research in insecure places foreshadowed the constraints that Covid-19 now imposes on all fieldwork. How has the pandemic changed research practice? What security and ethical concerns might be generated by remote research and transregional collaborations in insecure contexts?

Disaster Studies
Disaster Studies

This series of essays, drawing on insights from research on disasters and public health crises, will highlight how social research can shed light on the mutual effects of social inequality and events such as the Covid-19 pandemic over time.

A Time Capsule for Future Social Researchers

Inspired by the Council's Rachel Tanur Memorial Prize for Visual Sociology, we ask prominent scholars to select a visual artifact of this time that will help future researchers understand the Covid-19 crisis.

Andrew W. Mellon Professor, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study
"Congiunti is a synonym for relatives, but is mostly used in legal and bureaucratic documents. Although it is part of the vernacular, it is not the colloquial word Italians use to refer to relatives, which is parenti. The hashtag #congiunti gained national and international attention at the end of April 2020, when the Italian government announced the rules for the so-called Phase Two—the partial relaxation of the stay-at-home policy....The rule ignited satire and serious commentary."

Unnatural Disasters and Social Disease

Here we gather analysis from scholars SSRC has convened to reflect on social shocks over the last two decades. These essays offer crucial context for the Covid-19 crisis. Taken together, they suggest the increased frequency of social tumult catalyzed by climate change and political conflict, as well as the constancy of the disparate and harmful impact of these events on vulnerable communities.

Understanding Katrina

In this series of essays, scholars reflect on Hurricane Katrina as an "unnatural" disaster and examine the underlying social, political and economic issues and the structural and institutional sources of inequality it laid bare.

After September 11

The violence of September 11, 2001 stimulated public soul-searching, military and diplomatic responses, and efforts to reform policy. These essays explore questions about social organization, institutions, popular mobilization, and culture and politics raised by the attacks and reactions to them.

Chancing the Storm

How decisions are made under conditions of uncertainty is a perennial question of social science. The stakes are especially high for risks brought about by the occurrence of extreme weather conditions. How do experts and the public experience and respond to the uncertainties of climate disaster?