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

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dimitris SkleparisORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


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 and holistic 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. 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 best positioned to dominate, have the greatest impact on driving public attitudes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Karyotis G, Connolly J, Collignon S, Makropoulos I, Judge A, Rudig W, Skleparis D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Political Science Review

Year: 2021

Volume: 13

Issue: 4

Online publication date: 21/07/2021

Acceptance date: 03/06/2021

Date deposited: 24/06/2021

ISSN (print): 1755-7739

ISSN (electronic): 1755-7747

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1755773921000205


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