In a pandemic, what counts as and how we count impact is fundamentally social and political. In their essay for our “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series, Robert Soden, Jacqueline Wernimont, and Scott Gabriel Knowles suggest that we must more accurately account for a broad range of ways in which the labor of caring is happening in response to the pandemic, from care of acutely ill patients to the work of mutual aid collaborators seeking to address social inequalities magnified by the pandemic. The authors call for multimethod research that allows for qualitative insight to give depth to quantitative data, in order to ensure that new policies address the underlying problems that may be obscured by numerical research alone.
Crisis Informatics and Mutual Aid during the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Research Agendaby Robert Soden
In his contribution to the “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series, Robert Soden describes how mutual aid groups are more effectively responding to the pandemic with the help of a broad range of technological and social media tools. Using the insights of crisis informatics, he draws out connections between traditional community organizing, disaster response, data privacy, disinformation, and social and racial justice. In addition to considering the importance of understanding this community work and strategies for the current moment, Soden looks ahead to a postpandemic world, urging researchers and communities alike to be sure to use what is learned now to forge a just “new normal” for the future.
Modes of Uncertainty: Rethinking Flood Risk in Coloradoby Robert Soden
Writing for our “Chancing the Storm” series, Robert Soden discusses the multiple meanings and uses of “uncertainty” in understanding floods and people’s responses to information about them. Building on extensive research on the design of floodplain maps in Colorado that declare some places, but not others, at risk, Soden argues the techno-science understanding of uncertainty that these maps represent is important but limiting. To supplement this perspective, he calls for imagining uncertainty as productive (“generative”) and as socially and politically structured (“systematically produced”), drawing on examples from the floodplain mapping project.