On order and disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic

Stephen David Reicher, Clifford Stott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we analyse the conditions under which the COVID‐19 pandemic will lead either to social order (adherence to measures put in place by authorities to control the pandemic) or to social disorder (resistance to such measures and the emergence of open conflict). Using examples from different countries (principally the United Kingdom, the United States, and France), we first isolate three factors which determine whether people accept or reject control measures. These are the historical context of state‐public relations, the nature of leadership during the pandemic and procedural justice in the development and operation of these measures. Second, we analyse the way the crisis is policed and how forms of policing determine whether dissent will escalate into open conflict. We conclude by considering the prospects for order/disorder as the pandemic unfolds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-702
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Social order
  • Social disorder
  • Shared social identity
  • Leadership
  • Procedural justice
  • Policing


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