ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns on Intra-household Interactions in India

B Devi Prasad (deviprasadb2@gmail.com) is a former professor, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. A Eswara Rao (aeswararao2@gmail.com) is the development secretary, Balam Nagar Sachivalayam, Zone II, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, Visakhapatnam. Sumati Thusoo (st@monkprayogshala.in) and Vedika Inamdar (vi@monkprayogshala.in) are associated with the Department of Sociology, Monk Prayogshala, Mumbai.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic brought the institution of family and intra-household interactions during the lockdowns into focus. Apart from speculative essays and social media content, there is a dearth of empirical data on the interactions within families globally. To understand the impact of the stay-at-home diktat, this paper examined survey data (N = 388) on these broad domains: intra-household interactions, including interpersonal communication, work from home, leisure time, use of digital media, and overall subjective well-being. Our findings reveal increased food consumption and relationship-centred conversations among the sample households, followed by an increase in women’s responsibilities in the context of work from home. Elderly respondents, as compared to youth, and those from multigenerational households reported better well-being.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns imposed worldwide forced people to be confined to their homes (Dunford et al 2020). This forced isolation provided an opportunity to examine the interrelationships between the economy, people’s livelihoods, climate change, globalisation, international migration, travel, and the lockdown’s impact on interactions within the household (Banzie 2020; Denworth 2020). The unprecedented lockdown has brought the institution of family into greater ­focus everywhere (Economist 2020a).

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