Collective Resilience and the COVID-19 Experience

Cocking, Chris; Ntontis, Evangelos; Vestergren, Sara and Luzynska, Katarzyna (2023). Collective Resilience and the COVID-19 Experience. In: Miller, Monika K. ed. The Social Science of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Call to Action for Researchers. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 272–283.



While the COVID-19 pandemic brought global suffering, people also came together and engaged in remarkable acts of solidarity. Public behavior was mostly orderly, contrary to what is often expected by those in authority. Furthermore, cooperation was more common than selfish behavior, disproving the predictions of irrationality and/or “mass panic” that often emerge during extreme events. This emergence of solidarity is explained by the social identity model of collective psychosocial resilience (SIMCPR). This social psychological model argues that social bonds can develop when people experience a common fate during an emergency. Shared social identities help explain the cooperative behavior and social support seen during the pandemic, such as the emergence of localized mutual aid groups. This chapter explores cooperation and collective resilience during the pandemic. It is argued that sharing a social identity with others tended to increase from involvement in mutual aid, highlighting how participation shaped people’s experiences, behaviors, and overall collective resilience during the pandemic. Wider implications for emergency planning policy and practice and possible future research are discussed.

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