First-time motherhood and intergenerational solidarities during COVID-19
Keywords:first-time motherhood, intergenerational solidarity, family practices, the COVID-19 lockdown
Objective: This study investigated the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on intergenerational solidarities in Poland, specifically looking at flows between members of four family generations in the context of first-time motherhood.
Background: Unlike other crises, which typically mean that family members rely on one another for support, the pandemic challenges the scope of family solidarities. Little is still known as to how families navigate the particular vulnerability of first-time mothers who might face obstacles in accessing family assistance during lockdowns.
Method: The empirical material originates from a Qualitative Longitudinal Study (QLS) on transitions to motherhood in Poland (GEMTRA project, 2018-2021) and features case studies of intergenerational family triads (a first-time mother, her mother, and her grandmother). Two cases have been selected from a large pool of over 100 interviews conducted in two waves.
Results: We argue that the crucial stage of family life reified in welcoming the first child serves as special grounds for examining how family support and intergenerational solidarities are maintained, altered, or prioritized during the COVID-19 pandemic. We demonstrate that distinct types of associational, affectual, consensual, functional, normative and structural solidarities are variably affected.
Conclusion: We propose a new angle for identifying key support recipients within intergenerational solidarity flows in families during the crisis. Two directions of solidarity flows, towards younger and older generations, respectively, are presented.
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