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Journal Article

Coming together or coming apart? Changes in social cohesion during the Covid-19 pandemic in England


Publication date

22 Oct 2020


This paper explores the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s perceptions of cohesion in their local communities; particularly for vulnerable groups/communities, such as ethnic minorities or those living in highly deprived neighbourhoods. To this end, we examine both trends over time in overall levels of cohesion as well as patterns of positive and negative changes experienced by individuals using nationally representative data from Understanding Society Study. We test whether rates of positive-/negative-change in cohesion over the pandemic-period differed across socio-demographic groups and neighbourhood characteristics. These trends are then compared to patterns of positive-/negative-change over time experienced in earlier periods to test whether the pandemic was uniquely harmful. We show that the overall levels of social cohesion are lower in June 2020 compared to all of the examined pre-pandemic periods. The decline of perceived-cohesion is particularly high in the most deprived communities, among certain ethnic minority groups and among the lower-skilled. Our findings suggest that the pandemic put higher strain on social-resources among vulnerable groups and communities, who also experienced more negative changes in other areas of life.

Published in

European Societies





Social Groups, Area Effects, Social Networks, Psychology, Geography, Demography, Social Change, Households, Poverty, Public Policy, Ethnic Groups, Well Being, Societies, Social Capital, Health, Life Course Analysis, Social Attitudes, Social Stratification, Social Behaviour, Social Psychology, and Covid 19


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Related publications

  1. Good neighbours? No, UK’s community spirit fell in summer Covid lockdown

    Magda Borkowska and James Laurence

    1. Social Groups
    2. Area Effects
    3. Social Networks
    4. Psychology
    5. Geography
    6. Demography
    7. Social Change
    8. Households
    9. Poverty
    10. Public Policy
    11. Ethnic Groups
    12. Well Being
    13. Societies
    14. Social Capital
    15. Health
    16. Life Course Analysis
    17. Social Attitudes
    18. Social Stratification
    19. Social Behaviour
    20. Social Psychology
    21. Covid 19


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