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Publications [#362447] of Lynn Smith-Lovin

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Articles and Chapters

  1. Quinn, JM; Freeland, RE; Rogers, KB; Hoey, J; Smith-Lovin, L "How Cultural Meanings of Occupations in the U.S. Changed During the Covid-19 Pandemic."  January, 2022 [doi]
    (last updated on 2022/07/02)

    Social research highlights the stability of cultural beliefs, broadly arguing that population-level changes are uncommon and mostly explained by cohort replacement rather than individual-level change. We find evidence suggesting that cultural change may also occur rapidly in response to an economically and socially transformative period. Using data collected just before and after the outbreak of Covid-19 in the U.S., we explore whether cultural beliefs about essential and non-essential occupations are dynamic in the face of an exogenous social and economic shock. Using a sample of respondents whose characteristics match the U.S. Census on sex, age, and race/ethnicity, we fielded surveys measuring cultural beliefs about 85 essential and non-essential occupations using the evaluation, potency, and activity (EPA) dimensions from the Affect Control Theory paradigm. We expected that EPA ratings of essential work identities would increase due to positive media coverage of essential occupations as indispensable and often selfless roles in the pandemic, while EPA ratings of non-essential identities would decline. Our findings show patterns that are both clear and inconsistent with our predictions. For both essential and non-essential occupations, almost all statistically significant changes in mean evaluation and potency were negative; activity showed relatively little change. Changes in evaluation scores were more negative for non-essential occupations than essential occupations. Results suggest that pervasive and persistent exogenous events are worth investigating as potential sources of episodic cultural belief change.

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