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 Rüdig, Dimitris Skleparis

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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
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2021

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