Beyond ‘us’ and ‘them’: societal cohesion in the context of COVID-19

Belong is pleased to be working in partnership with the University of Kent’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes on this research project funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Many communities have responded to the Covid-19 crisis with prosocial behaviour, as neighbours organise for mutual support to help the vulnerable. At the same time it is clear that the impact of Covid-19 is different for different groups and communities. This study is seeking 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. 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 three interconnected components: a longitudinal six-wave survey in three regions of Britain; longitudinal four-wave surveys in six local authority areas, and with community activists in hyperlocal communities; and a deep-dive qualitative exploration of cohesion in the local authority areas and among community activists. Data collection is taking place between May 2020 and October 2020 with our final report due in January 2021.

The study is being led by Professor Dominic Abrams as principal investigator with co-investigators Dr Fanny Lalot, also from the Centre for the Study of Group Processes and Jo Broadwood, CEO of Belong.

We will be publishing our interim results, case studies and final reports here so please do check back for the latest on the project.

Latest on the project

Insights and Examples

Publications and papers

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.