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Title: ‘Being able to work has kept our life fairly constant:’ reconciling social practice models to assess the impact of (infra)structural inequities on household wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Social practice theory offers a multidisciplinary perspective on the relationship between infrastructure and wellbeing. One prominent model in practice theory framessystems of provisionas the rules, resources, and structures that enable the organization of social practices, encompassing both material and immaterial aspects of infrastructures. A second well-known model frames social practices in terms of their constituent elements: meanings, materials, and competences. Reconciling these two models, we argue that household capacity to respond to shifting systems of provision to maintain wellbeing is profoundly tied to the dynamics of privilege and inequity. To examine these dynamics, we propose a new analytical tool utilizing the Bourdieuian conceptualization of forms of capital, deepening the ability of social practice theory to address structural inequities by re-examining the question ofwhois able to access specific infrastructures. To illustrate this approach, we examine how households adapted to shifting systems of provision during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using data from 183 households in the Midwestern United States, we apply this tool to analyze adaptations to disruptions of multiple systems of provision, including work, school, food, and health, from February 2020 to August 2021. We highlight how household wellbeing during the pandemic has been impacted by forms of capital available to more » specific households, even as new social practices surrounding COVID-19 prevention became increasingly politicized. This research provides insight into both acute challenges and resilient social practices involving household consumption, indicating a need for policies that can address structural inequities across multiple systems of provision.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 015012
IOP Publishing
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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