Who Received Informal Social Support During the First COVID-19 Lockdown in Germany, and Who Did Not? : The Role of Social Networks, Life Course and Pandemic-Specific Risks
2022-09, Bertogg, Ariane, Koos, Sebastian
In this article, we study the receipt of informal support during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. The containment measures have had various, far-reaching consequences for the wellbeing of people, creating demands for economic, practical, and emotional support-even among individuals who hitherto were not in need of support. Existing research has shown substantial levels of informal support during the pandemic, often based on individuals' existing social networks, but has predominantly taken the perspective of donors. In this article, we focus on the "demand" or recipient "side" of informal support, and ask: (1) Who receives which type of informal social support during the pandemic? (2) Who reports unmet need? (3) Which factors explain support receipt, unmet need and the type of support received? To explain patterns of receiving social support, we identify "classic" life course and "new" pandemic-specific risks and complement this perspective with individuals' support potentials from their social networks. Empirically, we use data from an online survey, collected among a quota sample of the German population (n = 4,496) at the end of the first lockdown in late spring 2020. Our analysis shows that one in six respondents received social support, while only 3% report unmet need. Practical and emotional support are most widespread. Using logistic and multinomial logistic regression models our results show that social support in general and the type of support received can be explained by life course and pandemic risks, while unmet need is mainly a consequence of social network structure.
Socio-economic position and local solidarity in times of crisis : the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of informal helping arrangements in Germany
2021, Bertogg, Ariane, Koos, Sebastian
In this article we study the emergence of local solidarity in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis in Germany. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures have had far-reaching and quite diverse consequences for different social groups, and have increased the need for practical help, childcare, financial aid, but also emotional support to cope with the psychological consequences of social isolation. Hence, even individuals who are not traditionally receivers of informal help have suddenly become dependent on it. Existing research on volunteering, caregiving and donations has shown that the provision of help and volunteer work has a social gradient, and that social inequalities therein can partly be explained by reference to individuals’ attitudes and social networks. Against this backdrop, we ask: (1) Has the COVID-19 pandemic sparked the emergence of a new local solidarity? (2) What types of help are provided, and to whom? (3) How does socio-economic position affect the provision of different forms of help during the COVID-19 crisis? (4) Which sociological mechanisms can explain these inequalities in helping? Using data from a topical online-survey based on a quota sample which was collected, during the heydays of the first lockdown in Germany, we find that one of two respondents engages in some sort of local solidarity. Depending on the recipient and the way of helping – up to half of these helping arrangements has newly emerged and does not build on already existing (pre-crisis) help-arrangements. Differences between income and educational groups can mostly be explained by attitudes and social networks. Embeddedness in formal networks is particularly important for extending help to previously unknown recipients in the community. This article contributes to the literature on the social origins of help and the initiation of social capital during crises in general, and the political discussion about solidarity in the COVID-19 pandemic in particular.
The Making and Breaking of Social Ties During the Pandemic : Socio-Economic Position, Demographic Characteristics, and Changes in Social Networks
2022, Bertogg, Ariane, Koos, Sebastian
Contact restrictions and distancing measures are among the most effective non-pharmaceutical measures to stop the spread of the SARS-CoV2 virus. Yet, research has only begun to understand the wider social consequences of these interventions. This study investigates how individuals' social networks have changed since the outbreak of the pandemic and how this is related to individuals' socio-economic positions and their socio-demographic characteristics. Based on a large quota sample of the German adult population, we investigate the loss and gain of strong and weak social ties during the pandemic. While about one third of respondents reported losing of contact with acquaintances, every fourth person has lost contact to a friend. Forming new social ties occurs less frequently. Only 10-15% report having made new acquaintances (15%) or friends (10%) during the pandemic. Overall, more than half of our respondents did not report any change, however. Changes in social networks are linked to both socio-demographic and socio-economic characteristics, such as age, gender, education, and migration background, providing key insights into a yet underexplored dimension of pandemic-related social inequality.
Changes of Social Networks during the Covid-19 Pandemic : Who is affected and what are its Consequences for Psychological Strain?
2021, Bertogg, Ariane, Koos, Sebastian
Contact restrictions and distancing measures are among the most effective non-pharmaceutical measures to stop the spread of the SARS-CoV2 virus. Yet, research has only begun to understand the wider social consequences of these interventions. This study investigates how individuals’ social networks have changed since the outbreak of the pandemic and how these changes relate to psychological strain. Based on an online survey of the German adult population, four types of change are distinguished: loss, gain, and intensification of ties, as well as pandemic-related conflicts. One in two respondents has experienced at least one of these four changes. Loss is more frequently reported than gain of ties, and intensification occurred more frequently than conflicts. Loss of ties and conflicts are furthermore associated with higher levels of psychological strain.