Understanding Pandemic Solidarity: Mutual Support During the First COVID-19 Lockdown in the United Kingdom

Public Health Ethics 16 (3):245-260 (2023)
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Abstract

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of solidarity has been invoked frequently. Much interest has centred around how citizens and communities support one another during times of uncertainty. Yet, empirical research which accounts and understands citizen’s views on pandemic solidarity, or their actual practices has remained limited. Drawing upon the analysis of data from 35 qualitative interviews, this article investigates how residents in England and Scotland enacted, understood, or criticised (the lack of) solidarity during the first national lockdown in the United Kingdom in April 2020—at a time when media celebrated solidarity as being at an all-time high. It finds that although solidarity was practiced by some people, the perceived lack of solidarity was just as pronounced. We conclude that despite frequent mobilisations of solidarity by policy makers and other public actors, actual practices of solidarity are poorly understood—despite the importance of solidarity for public health and policy.

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