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  • HOPE not hate

Why pub closures reduce resilience

Image taken from here.

This recent study, by the LSE’s Diane Bolet, explores in detail the relationship between pub closures and support for the radical right. Entitled ‘Drinking alone’, the analysis compares 2013-16 polling data about UKIP with figures for pub closures in the preceding decade – identifying clear parallels.

Bolet concludes that “individuals living in districts that experience one additional community pub closure (relative to the total number of pubs per district) are more likely to support UKIP than any other party by 4.3 percentage points.” She adds that “The effect is magnified under conditions of material deprivation.”

When we have looked at this issue, both anecdotally and via research, we have found something similar. The chart above is taken from our towns report last summer, and is explained in more detail in this recent blog. It showed that towns where the number of pubs is falling fastest also tend to be those where hostility to migration and multiculturalism is strongest.

Of course, this is about more than just pub closures. Visible decline of almost every sort (“socio-cultural degradation,” as Bolet calls it) can amplify hostility to change and difference. The public realm is absolutely central to strengthening resilience and reducing tensions.

Our What Works Webinar last week, ‘Decline narratives and the power of the public’ realm, looked further at this topic. We heard some fantastic examples of good work going on to reduce public realm issues – when it came to community arts, the use of empty shop fronts and housing issues.

To read our write-up of the seminar click here.


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