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Put Your Mask On! Contractual Sociality at Work in the Pandemic
For many Americans, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced them to re-evaluate how the workplace functions as a site of private government. In every workplace, there is a wide range of attitudes and responses to pandemic risk, and yet the workplace somehow has to convince everyone to coordinate around a new set of practices to prevent spread. In these moments, people are made vividly aware of the tacit social contracts shaping their workplace commitments. They have traded autonomy for a certain degree of security -- yet what kind of security is it when to do one's job, one has to work in-person dealing with co-workers, and/or customers, patients, and students? In this talk, I am going to discuss what the pandemic has revealed about Americans' political imagination about how to govern and be governed in the workplace, with a focus on the role that contractual sociality plays in structuring this imagination.