Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Social (Inequality and Social Justice Option)

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Kathy Kuipers

Commitee Members

James A. Tuttle, Christina Yoshimura


Sociology, Mutual Aid, Emergent Groups, Risk Perception, Social Trust, Institutional Trust


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Civic and Community Engagement | Politics and Social Change | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Justice | Sociology


Throughout the world, thousands of local mutual aid networks (MANs) have emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mutual aid involves exchanging resources, connecting people to services and building community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, mutual aid includes sharing COVID-19 information, social support, food and emergency funds in informal local networks. To learn more about these community networks and explore the perspectives and experiences of MAN participants around the United States, I conducted survey research. There are 101 individuals from 16 MANs in 11 states included in the survey sample.

There are two parts to this research. The first explores descriptive characteristics of MAN participants and their network involvement. The survey results describe demographic characteristics of MAN participant demographic characteristics, types of MAN involvement and motivations for joining MANs. The second part of this research analyzes social trust, institutional trust and COVID-19 risk perception. Survey findings suggest that MAN participants have high social trust, high institutional trust and low COVID-19 risk perception when compared to overall U.S. population survey data (Dryhurst et al. 2020; NORC1 N.d.). Results from this research provide insight on local community networks that develop in the midst of crises and contribute to a growing body of COVID-19 mutual aid research.



© Copyright 2021 Allison M. Cutuli