What drives support for social distancing? Pandemic politics, securitisation and crisis management in Britain

Georgios Karyotis*, John Connolly, Sofia Collignon, Andrew Judge, Iakovos Makropoulos, Wolfgang Rudig, Dimitris Skleparis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Support for social distancing measures was, globally, high at the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic but increasingly came under pressure. Focusing on the UK, this article provides a rigorous exploration of the drivers of public support for social distancing at their formative stage, via mixed-methods. Synthesising insights from crisis management and securitisation theory, thematic analysis is employed to map the main frames promoted by the government and other actors on the nature/severity, blame/responsibility and appropriate response to the pandemic, which ‘follows the science’. The impact of these on public attitudes is examined via a series of regression analyses, drawing on a representative survey of the UK population (n = 2,100). Findings challenge the prevailing understanding that support for measures is driven by personal health considerations, socio-economic circumstances and political influences. Instead, framing dynamics, which the government is well-positioned to dominate, have the greatest impact on driving public attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Political Science Review
Early online date21 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • public attitudes
  • securitisation
  • Covid-19
  • crisis management
  • political behaviour

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