Laura Mauldin

Laura Mauldin: Humanities Institute Fellow

Congratulations to Associate Professor of Human Development & Family Sciences and Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies/Sociology Laura Mauldin for being selected as a faculty fellow for the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI). “For All We Care” is a book project based on the stories of spousal/partner caregivers who everyday provide extraordinary care to their partners despite near total abandonment from the state. Mauldin uses interviews with dozens of spousal caregivers across the country, as well as her own experience, to reveal the realities of this untenable arrangement.

For more information check out the article "20th Class of Humanities Institute Fellows Pursue Wide Range of Scholarship
" published on UConn Today.

Laura Mauldin: “If he gets COVID, it’s over”

Check out Sociology Assistant Professor Laura Mauldin’s recent article in Caring Across Generations titled “‘If he gets COVID, it’s over’: I talked to spousal caregivers during COVID, here’s what I’ve learned.” The article talks about the stress spousal caregivers are faced with due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

***Excerpt from Article***

“Family caregivers are everywhere. The latest studies show there are 53 million of them, an increase of 9.5 million in just the last 5 years. My research focuses on spousal caregivers, a subpopulation of family caregivers. Spousal caregivers differ from other family caregivers: They assist with more activities of daily living, perform more medical or nursing tasks, are almost always the sole caregiver, and are far more likely to be doing “high intensity” caregiving. They also report feeling significantly more stressed and more alone than other types of caregivers. The COVID-19 pandemic has markedly worsened the situation. I talked to 43 caregivers ranging from 29-87 years old, across 21 states. I asked them about the effects of COVID-19 on their lives.”

Laura Mauldin: Research During Covid

Read Assistant Professor Laura Mauldin's two post series in Scatterplot, the Sociology blog, on doing qualitative research during COVID19.

Post 1: Taking Care of Each Other

"During COVID19, qualitative researchers are having to improvise and use all kinds of new strategies for doing fieldwork. I’ll focus on some of mechanics of these strategies in part 2 of this series, but this installment is focused on care: It is imperative to care for each other as researchers right now. We need a collective act of care for our fellow qualitative researchers; we are all pressured and stressed and trying to scramble to do the best work we can. We are all learning to adjust to the new realities of fieldwork, but we need to be willing to talk about what adjustments we have made so that we can collectively add to the fund of knowledge about this adjustment."


Post 2: Centering Care in/with the Mechanics of  Virtual Fieldwork

"In the previous post I talked about care for ourselves as we embark on fieldwork during a pandemic, care for each other as fellow academics also trying to figure it out, and care for our participants too. To continue the conversation about how to best care for ourselves, each other, and our participants, this installment focuses on logistics. There have been a variety resources posted about what it means to strategize fieldwork and to be 'in the field' during a pandemic."



Laura Mauldin: “Support Mechansim”

In "Support Mechanism" published in Real Life, Assistant Professor Laura Mauldin discusses the technological innovations in healthcare that overlook "[t]he expertise of caregivers, alongside their ill or disabled partner." This article is part of Laura's research for a new book that centers stories of spousal caregiving in the context of illness, disability, and aging, supported by a Social Science Research Council Rapid-Response Grant.
***Excerpt from the Article***
Investment in home care — through better and more expansive funding for long-term services and supports, for instance — would help ill and disabled people, and their caregivers, to live well, accompanied by the technologies that move care out of the clinical setting. Instead, investments in corporate infrastructures merely outsource caregiving to family members who are then tasked with operating the medical technology; or lead to the development of private long-term care insurance plans that few can afford. Most cannot even qualify for such plans — you cannot obtain a long-term care policy if you already have a condition that warrants it. Many caregivers also lamented medical supply policies, telling me that they are often given just one of something they needed many of, or too many of something of which they only needed one. They pointed out the lack of coverage for repair parts like casters and brake lines. These misalignments reflect the notion that advanced technology in standard quantities can provide quick solutions appropriate for any and all situations.

SSRC Rapid-Response to COVID19 and the Social Sciences Grant

Congratulations to Laura Mauldin, winner of an SSRC Rapid-Response to Covid19 and the Social Sciences Grant! From a pool of over 1300 applicants, 62 projects were selected that address the social, economic, cultural, psychological, and political impact of Covid-19 in the United States and globally, as well as responses to the pandemic’s wide-ranging effects.

Individuals with chronic illnesses or disabilities, as well as those over the age of 65, occupy the highest risk categories for contracting and dying from Covid-19. This project focuses on these invisible frontlines of care: the millions of chronically ill and/or elderly Americans who are not institutionalized and instead receiving care at home from family members, specifically their spouses. How is Covid-19 shaping the hidden, intimate worlds of spousal care at home? What are the immediate and potential long-term consequences for these families? How are they coping and what supports do they need? This project uses qualitative research methods to gather meaningful data to constructively inform responses from communities, public actors, and other institutions. Spousal caregivers will be recruited through caregiver support organizations in the US. Through virtual interviews, I expect to find (1) what caregiving looked like pre- and post-Covid-19, (2) their access to and utilization levels of home care supports (like home health aides) and how access to such supports has been affected, and (3) what strategies they are using to adjust to the pandemic, including practices with regard to social isolation and managing fear of infection. Once data are analyzed, the themes I find can pinpoint where policy efforts should be targeted.

Laura Mauldin: Disability as an Axis of Inequality

American Sociology Association Logo

Laura Mauldin was the lead author on Disability as an Axis of Inequality: A Pandemic Illustration (Disability in Society) as part of the ASA Footnotes special issue on COVID19.

"In summary, based on their social position and taken-for-granted ideologies that they are disposable and less worthy, disabled people are at increased risk for exposure to the virus and decreased likelihood of adequate healthcare. Barriers also emerge as home becomes the new hub of school, work, and family life. In response, disability justice communities have been steadfastly organizing, both before and during the pandemic. For example, groups like the Disability Justice Culture Club in the San Francisco Bay Area and Crip Fund have been providing direct assistance and money to those facing serious needs. Disability rights organizations such as the American Association of People with Disabilities and the National Council of Independent Living have mobilized nationally to advocate for the passage of legislation that ensures that the needs of people with disabilities are included in every aspect of social and political response to the pandemic. The intersectional implications of the COVID-19 pandemic make evident now, more than ever, that any truly rigorous exploration of social inequality requires sociologists to more critically engage disability in their work. We hope this piece helps ignite transformation."