Beyond Us and Them: societal cohesion in the context of Covid-19

‘Beyond Us and Them’ is a research project conducted by Belong in partnership with the University of Kent’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes looking at the effects of Covid-19 on social cohesion.

The project has been generously funded by the Nuffield Foundation. It comes to a conclusion in March 2021.

‘Beyond us and Them’ seeks to understand factors that promote or inhibit social cooperation, that mobilise or discourage action in support of others, and that build or undermine the potential for positive relationships between different groups in society in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. Understanding the social and psychological processes in responses to the pandemic will support policy to build resilience and recovery in local areas as the crisis proceeds and recedes.

The project has four interconnected components: a longitudinal eight-wave survey in three regions of Britain; longitudinal six-wave surveys in six local authority areas that have prioritised social cohesion, and with community activists in hyperlocal communities; three-wave surveys in four metropolitan areas; and a deep-dive qualitative exploration of cohesion in the regions, local authority areas, metropolitan areas and among community activists. Data collection is taking place between May 2020 and July 2021. 

In November 2021, we released our project major report, ‘Beyond Us and Them: Societal Cohesion in Britain Through Eighteen Months of COVID-19’, which comments on findings from the quantitative and qualitative research over the duration of the project. 

The study is being led by Professor Dominic Abrams as principal investigator with co-investigators Dr Fanny Lalot, formerly based in the Centre for the Study of Group Processes and now at the University of Basel, and Jo Broadwood, CEO of Belong.

This page is regularly updated with the latest project research papers, case studies and event details.

Related resources

Research partners

We are grateful to our research partners across the UK who are working with us to gather the evidence. They are the 6 local authority areas: Bradford, Blackburn with Darwen, Walsall and Waltham Forest, and Calderdale Council and Peterborough Council (on a survey only basis).

And community partners: Spirit of 2012; Near Neighbours; Streetgames; Volunteering Matters and the Jo Cox Foundation. We are also grateful to National Citizens Service; Sporting Equals and Humanists UK who are supporting  the surveys.