Assessing the impact of pubs on community cohesion and wellbeing in the English countryside: a longitudinal study

Ignazio Cabras, Matthew Mount

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This paper aims to explore and examine how public houses or pubs function as facilitators and
developers of community cohesion and social interactions in rural areas of England.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors use data and information about facilities and services
available for 284 rural parishes in two different points in time (2000 and 2010) to elaborate an index
measurement of community cohesion. The index, created upon a range of discrete variables capturing
multiple aspects of community living, is then investigated by using structural equation models to assess the
impact of pubs in shaping the levels of community cohesion in the English countryside.
Findings – Findings gathered from the analysis identify a strong positive relationship between the presence
of pubs and higher levels of community cohesion index occurring within the examined parishes, indicating
that this relationship is maintained in time regardless of size of the parish, although different impacts are
found in the two time points considered.
Research limitations/implications – As the study is based on a longitudinal examination, it can
stimulate research on themes and issues regarding the impact of third places on community cohesion and
social capital in rural and remote communities, increasing the amount of information and data available. For
instance, due to the nature of information considered, the study could not explore the effects on rural
communities’ wellbeing associated with different types of pubs’ ownership and management.
Practical implications – These results provide a valuable and original contribution to the literature
related to the measurement of community cohesion and wellbeing with regard to third places such as small
businesses and local retailers, whose significant functions of fostering social aggregation and communal
initiatives at a local level are frequently neglected.
Social implications – Findings from this study provide a valuable opportunity for policymakers and
local administrators to evaluate policies and actions in support of their communities. In particular, findings
provide an original piece of information about the social value of community pubs particularly in small and
peripheral areas of England.
Originality/value – The paper provides new and original information about the importance of pubs and third
places in general in fostering and developing community cohesion and wellbeing at a local level. Given the
significant paucity of empirical studies in the field, the paper represents a valuable contribution to knowledge with
particular regard to the methodology applied as well as the potential implications of its findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-506
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2017


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