Abstract: The article focuses on the changed dynamics of family life due to the first wave of Covid-19—starting in the spring of 2020—and the consequent longstanding social lockdown in the fall of 2020. We employ the concept of “forced nuclearisation” to describe the process that required a rapid reorganisation of otherwise self-evident and established social patterns and relationships, above all new adjustments of care relations both inside and outside the private sphere. The focus is on new demands in the intertwined spheres of work, school, and family obligations, especially because the private sphere has been assigned several additional functions, otherwise carried out by educational and daycare institutions. Based on an extensive dataset from a quantitative exploratory online survey conducted in two time periods, first in April 2020 and then in October 2020, this article discusses, from a comparative perspective and with a focus on gender inequalities, the main changes in practices and everyday routines such as shopping, housework, childcare, work obligations, and caring for other family members. The research aimed to identify the most obvious distinctions in family scenarios and, in particular, to point to the main social inequalities and potentially vulnerable groups within the population, who faced the forced and unexpected nuclearisation of everyday life.
Keywords: Covid-19; epidemic scenarios; family; forced nuclearisation; gender; lockdown; quantitative analysis; social inequalities; survey research