How participation in Covid-19 mutual aid groups affects subjective well-being and how political identity moderates these effects

Mao, Guanlan, Drury, John, Fernandes-Jesus, Maria and Ntontis, Evangelos (2021) How participation in Covid-19 mutual aid groups affects subjective well-being and how political identity moderates these effects. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 21 (1). pp. 1082-1112. ISSN 1529-7489

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Mutual aid groups have flourished during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, a major challenge is sustaining such groups, which tend to decline following the initial upsurge immediately after emergencies. The present study investigates one possible motivation for continued participation: the well-being benefits associated with psychological membership of groups, as suggested by the “social cure” approach. Interviews were conducted with 11 volunteers in a mutual aid group organized by ACORN, a community union and anti-poverty campaigning organization. Through qualitative analysis, we show that participation provided well-being in different ways: positive emotional experiences, increased engagement in life, improved social relationships, and greater sense of control. Participants also reported some negative emotional experiences. While all interviewees experienced benefits from participation, those who viewed their participation through a political lens were able to experience additional benefits such as feelings of empowerment. Moreover, the benefits conferred by a shared political identity appeared to be qualitatively different from the benefits conferred by other forms of shared identity. The interview data is used to hypothesize an overall process by which participants may come to attain a political identity via mutual aid. These findings have implications for how such groups retain their members and how authorities support these groups.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Covid-19, mutual aid, groups, activism, social identity, subjective wellbeing, mental health, social cure
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2021 08:17
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2022 13:00

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Facilitating the public response to COVID-19 by harnessing group processesG3017UK RESEARCH AND INNOVATIONES/V005381/1