Creating a Caring Community: An Examination of Mutual Aid Networks

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Name: Abigail Beard
Major: Sociology
Advisor: Setsuko Mastuzawa; Heather Fitz Gibbon (second reader)

For the past decade, there has been a focus placed on research on community liberation, solidarity networks, and self-help group formation. In the following paper, I will be examining mutual aid systems and groups in the United States. I characterize these groups as informal aid networks that do not follow traditional bureaucratic methods of organizing. These organizations usually have an increased knowledge of their local community and usually incorporate some sort of social justice criticism that motivates their work. I conduct semi-structured interviews with two Ohio networks in Wooster and in Cleveland that I categorize as mutual aid networks. I find that having an informal structure allows for more freedom for workers and recipients of aid. There is an ideological component that holds significance to mutual aid networks and drives their efforts. There is also a continual reimagining of what a supportive, caring community can look like. This paper contributes to a growing body of work on community liberation, social network creation, and organizational structure.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 11, 2023.

2 responses to “Creating a Caring Community: An Examination of Mutual Aid Networks”

  1. Prof Cowing says:

    Congratulations, Abigail! What an important and necessary examination of mutual aid in Ohio. Well done.

  2. Matt Krain says:

    Congratulations, Abigail! I’ll be sure to stop by the poster this afternoon to learn more.