A Social Capital Approach to Understanding Community Resilience during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Wilson, Suzanne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7021-8967, Fernandes-Jesus, Maria, Young, Juliette, Drury, John, Harris, Carl, Graber, Rebecca, Northorp, Sue, O’Dwyer, Emma and Walker, Carl (2023) A Social Capital Approach to Understanding Community Resilience during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Forum Community Psychology .

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Official URL: https://www.uclan.ac.uk/research/activity/citizens...


As the world begins to take stock of the impact of Covid-19, this paper provides a critical review of the role of mutual aid groups in the UK community response. Drawing on inter-views with community members and selective case studies, this position paper considers what forms of social capital impact on availability of mutual aid support in the community response to Covid-19. Based on our own experiences and Covid-19 specific research, we found that communities with social capital have been among the most organised in providing formal mutual aid, and sometimes this has extended to supporting the more marginalised and disadvantaged communities. The phenomenon of collective resilience in the pandemic, and in particular the activities of mutual aid groups as described in this paper, testify to the relevance of key concepts in social and community psychology. Without psychological ‘groupness’ there would be no adaptive community response. Further research is needed to better understand the role that social capital played in both the individual and community resilience of those offering and receiving mutual aid. This is of particular importance, given that communities lacking social capital are more vulnerable to social exclusion, in a global context where societal inequalities are widening. Whilst appreciating the limitations of social capital (particularly that it does not explain the new group relationships and forms of solidarity that have emerged), we argue that developing social capital, particularly bridging and linking social capital, can help to build community resilience and promote inclusions in communities bearing the collective economic and societal burden of the pandemic.

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