This research explores ways public service ecosystems developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on relationships between community-led mutual aid groups and the state. Data were collected through in-depth interviews, focus groups, and mobile ethnographic methods with 30 participants from the public sector and three mutual aid groups across Scotland. We show how relationships between mutual aid groups and the state – whether complementary, supplementary, or adversarial – shifted over the course of the pandemic. Our findings add nuance to understandings that presuppose mutual aid as antagonistic, highlighting ways that mutual aid groups may be brought into existing public service ecosystems.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Rendall, J., Curtin, M., Roy, M. & Teasdale, S. 2022, 'Relationships between community-led mutual aid groups and the state during the COVID-19 pandemic: complementary, supplementary, or adversarial?', Public Management Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/14719037.2022.2084769

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Last updated: 22 June 2022
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