Faculty Publications

Volunteer Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment Makers: Third Sphere Labor, Caring Masculinities, And Redoing Gender

Document Type



caring masculinities, COVID-19, pandemic, redoing gender, third sphere

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Men and Masculinities


In the opening months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., thousands of volunteer makers stepped up to produce PPE through third sphere labor, volunteer work that emphasizes community maintenance. Drawing on 78 semi-structured interviews and 662 open-ended questionnaires, we consider how third sphere carework could destabilize hierarchies between public, private, and third sphere labor and in the valuation of feminized versus masculinized work. We find women and men makers differed in what they made, but not in their motivations for producing PPE or how they valued the work of other makers. Makers rejected the idea that they should perform such work without any appreciation from third sphere recipients, but private sphere demands limited women makers more than men. Throughout men makers’ efforts, we find ample evidence of caring masculinities as a response to disaster. We conclude with a consideration of what these trends mean for redoing gender and third sphere carework.


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version