Socio-economic position and local solidarity in times of crisis : the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of informal helping arrangements in Germany

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Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. Elsevier. 2021, 74, 100612. ISSN 0276-5624. eISSN 1878-5654. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.rssm.2021.100612
Zusammenfassung

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.

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Fachgebiet (DDC)
300 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie
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Solidarity, Crisis, Informal help, Volunteering, COVID-19, Social inequality, Socio-economic position, Networks, Attitudes
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ISO 690BERTOGG, Ariane, Sebastian KOOS, 2021. Socio-economic position and local solidarity in times of crisis : the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of informal helping arrangements in Germany. In: Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. Elsevier. 2021, 74, 100612. ISSN 0276-5624. eISSN 1878-5654. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.rssm.2021.100612
BibTex
@article{Bertogg2021Socio-54000,
  year={2021},
  doi={10.1016/j.rssm.2021.100612},
  title={Socio-economic position and local solidarity in times of crisis : the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of informal helping arrangements in Germany},
  volume={74},
  issn={0276-5624},
  journal={Research in Social Stratification and Mobility},
  author={Bertogg, Ariane and Koos, Sebastian},
  note={Article Number: 100612}
}
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