Coping with Coping: International migrants’ experiences of the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK

Dorothy Yen , Benedetta Cappellini, Sophie Yang, Suraksha Gupta

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26 Citations (Scopus)
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Globally, policymakers have overlooked the challenges faced by international migrants in host countries during the Covid-19 pandemic. The policies and support systems designed by host governments highlight the lack of social justice and raise concerns for scholarly attention. Considering the experiences of international migrants living in the UK during the Covid-19 lockdown from the theoretical perspective of coping, this interpretivist study investigates international migrants’ coping strategies adopted during the first UK national lockdown. Data collected from 60 Chinese, Italian and Iranian migrants using semi-structured interviews during the lockdown period were analysed thematically using NVivo. The findings show that migrants adopted multi-layered and multi-phase coping strategies. To cope with the anxiety and uncertainties caused by the pandemic, they initiated new practices informed by both home and host institution logics. Nevertheless, the hostile context's responses provoked unexpected new worries and triggered the adoption of additional and compromising practices. The paper illustrates how coping became paradoxical because migrants had to cope with the hostile reactions that their initial coping strategies provoked in the host environment. By introducing the new concept of coping with coping, this paper extends previous theoretical debate and leads to several managerial implications for governments and policymakers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1219-1241
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number4
Early online date25 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management


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