Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology

First Advisor

Willa Johnson

Second Advisor

Kirk Johnson

Third Advisor

John Green

Relational Format



The purpose of the present study is to compare the United States’ federal and state response to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and the 2020 COVID-19 Crisis and the role of bureaucracy. Utilizing Qualitative Content Analysis, I examined 300 newspaper articles from The New York Times, The Clarion-Ledger, and The Daily Clarion-Ledger from July 1, 1918, to December 31, 1918, and March 1, 2020, to August 31, 2020. Through this analysis, I found that federal and state governments reacted to the 1918 flu very quickly, whereas the response to COVID-19 was hindered due to political in-fighting that impeded the bureaucracy and interfered with proper procedures to combat the outbreak. Charismatic rule did infringe to some extent on how the bureaucracy responded to COVID-19. This study shows that, while the response to the 1918 flu was much more efficient than the coronavirus pandemic response, the approaches of the federal and state governments to both pandemics were flawed in some way. Based on the findings of this piece, the United States needs an organization or agency on the federal, state, and regional levels to streamline pandemic response so that, in the event of a future epidemic or pandemic, the United States can respond promptly and focus on preserving lives.



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