'The threat is in all of us': Perceptions of loneliness and divided communities in urban and rural areas during COVID-19
Journal of Community Psychology
Loneliness is becoming recognised as an important social issue with health and well-being consequences. The recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has likely impacted loneliness through increased social isolation, though the effects may vary across urban and rural locations, where the dynamics of social capital, community cohesion and community divide are likely to differ. This paper consequently examines the different and compounding impacts of isolating disasters, such as bushfires and pandemics, on social capital and loneliness in urban and rural areas of Australia. This article compares experiences of loneliness in rural/regional and urban areas of Australia moving from the aftermath of the 2019–2020 bushfires into the COVID-19 pandemic. Semi-structured interviews provide a complex insight into how loneliness is experienced across different locations. The key findings included a higher sense of social divide exacerbating loneliness in rural communities, higher levels of loneliness among participants who lived alone in either area. It was concluded that loneliness was experienced extensively among those who were single and/or lived alone, regardless of their geographical location.
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