How women experienced the lockdown in Italy: From new vulnerabilities to new forms of agency
The article questions how women living in different social situations and with different amounts of social, cultural and economic resources experienced the two-month lockdown from March to May 2020 in Italy. In doing so, the paper follows a resilience approach. In line with this, the study does not only concentrate on emerging new gender related vulnerabilities but also new form of agency and resourcefulness in overcoming negative experiences deriving from this emergency through employing multiple practices, such as networks and support structures. The research adopted a qualitative approach to understand the complex settings through semi-structured interviews and document analysis. The analysis show, relevant shift towards individual responsibility on a structural level but also a shift in responsibility on a very private level – predominantly to the detriment of women. The almost automatically expected return of women to their traditionally attributed tasks in the unpaid economy on both, the structural as well as on the cultural level has laid bare a particular social order, installed by a patriarchal system of power and functioning. Against this background, women developed different forms of agency: On the one hand a more individual/ adoptive strategy that tends to maintain social structures and on the other hand a more collective/transformative strategies with the aim to transform existing social structures.
Keywords: Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown, women, gender roles, social distancing, vulnerabilities, forms of agency.