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No 40 - 2022

Families during COVID-19
Directed by Laurence Charton

COVID-19 Pandemic: What Are the Impacts on Families?
Laurence Charton, Léoni Labrecque, Joseph Josy Lévy

Research Framework: The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictive measures issued, such as physical distancing and lockdown, have affected social and family ties. These constraints have forced people to reexamine their family and conjugal relationship, the management of family and professional time, their intergenerational connections, and life transitions. Either exacerbating the tensions on conjugal and family life or strengthening these links, this pandemic has also provided an opportunity to explore on new strategies for living together.

Objectives: This article offers an overview of the effects and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on families and their members.

Methodology: This article is based on a literature review from various social science disciplines.

Results: Partial insights were provided on the following questions: What effects did the pandemic have on families and family members? How did families manage the pandemic’s economic consequences? What were the repercussions of health measures that were put in place to counter the spread of COVID-19 on couples, children, intergenerational relationships, and mental health? How were mortuary rites and mourning processes affected?

Conclusion: This article contributes, beyond the individual and social hardships resulting from COVID-19, to show familial – generational and community – solidarity and resiliency that have emerged, as well as the ways in which families and their members have coped and organized themselves during the pandemic.

Contribution: Throughout history, societies have been confronted with epidemics that have affected all spheres of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has once again highlighted the importance, fragility and strength of the social and family ties, along with the challenges of living together.

Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, lockdown, family, family ties

Work-family Reconciliation among Quebec Mothers and Fathers during the Pandemic: Findings and Recommendations for Quebec
Sophie Mathieu, Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay

Research Framework: The health crisis resulted in difficult situations for many workers, but especially for parents, who had to reconcile their work and family activities while the children were at home.

Objectives: The objective of this research is to compare the work-family reconciliation of Quebec fathers and mothers before and during the pandemic.

Methodology: We use survey data collected from Quebec working parents in 2018, 2020 and 2021.

Results: Our results lead to three observations: 1) the existence of gendered effects of the pandemic on Quebec workers 2) the role of employers in the reduction of work-family conflict, and 3) a certain ease reported in work-family reconciliation during a pandemic.

Conclusions: The transition to telework has reduced time conflicts for many parents, and a larger proportion of them feel they have an easy work-family reconciliation in 2020 and 2021, than in 2018.

Contribution: Our research makes it possible to formulate recommendations to improve the support offered to Quebec families in terms of work-family balance.

Keywords: work-family reconciliation, mother, father, pandemic, COVID-19

Work-Family Balance among University Employees Having Children Aged 11 or Less in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Eve Pouliot, Christiane Bergeron-Leclerc, Danielle Maltais, Jacques Cherblanc, Jacinthe Dion, Pascale Dubois, Ann-Sophie Simard, Gabrielle Ross, Anne-Renée Gravel, Oscar Labra, Cathy Vaillancourt, Taha Abderrafie Moalla

Research Framework: Although all Quebec residents have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the health and social measures put in place since March 2020, working parents have been particularly affected by the various stressors caused by this crisis, in both their family and professional life. In such a context, it seems relevant to examine the consequences of the pandemic on work-family balance, and more specifically on the factors associated with it.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to document the personal, family and work characteristics associated with work-family balance among university employees with children aged 11 or younger in the context of the pandemic.

Methodology: The data used for this study were collected between April 24 and June 5, 2020, through an online survey. A total of 217 staff members from ten institutions of the Quebec University Network completed the survey, which included questions related to work-family balance. Multiple linear regressions were used to determine the respective influence of factors associated with the work-family balance.

Results: Overall, this study shows that university employees having children aged 11 or younger present a majority of moderate to high work-family conflict in the context of the pandemic. It also highlights some of the factors that may help or hinder work-family balance in this population of parents, namely level of parenting strain, satisfaction with sharing childcare and parenting duties, job category, stability of job performance, and number of young school-aged children.

Conclusions: These findings underscore the importance of implementing work and family support programs and respite measures for parents with young school-aged children to help them balance their family and work responsibilities in times of crisis.

Contribution: Although some studies have documented factors associated with work-family balance in times of pandemic, they remain few and only one has been conducted in the Quebec context. Work-family balance is likely to be experienced differently in Quebec, which is different from other countries in terms of its family policy. In addition, this study is the first to look at university employees, a group of workers who were among the first to be affected by the school closures in the spring of 2020.

Mots-clés: work-life balance, parent, pandemic, COVID-19

COVID-19, lockdown and impact among Spanish university students: an exploratory analysis
Miguel David Guevara Espinar , Joseph Josy Lévy

Research framework: Using the theoretical frameworks of quality of life and the sociology of technology uses, this qualitative article explores the consequences of lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic among Spanish students enrolled at the University of Salamanca.

Objectives: This article analyzes the impact of lockdown on the quality of life of university students in different spheres, such as residential, mental health, diet, alcohol and drug consumption, physical exercise, use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), academic work, financial repercussions and coping strategies.

Methodology: Exploratory interviews were conducted with 12 respondents (6 male and 6 female students) enrolled at the University of Salamanca on the impact of lockdown in the different spheres of life. The transcripts were coded and thematically analyzed to identify the salient dimensions, convergences and differences in the students’ experience.

Results: This study allowed us to identify the positive and negative repercussions of lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic on the quality of life, to identify the repertoire of reactions to this extreme event in the different spheres of life, and in particular in the use of information and communication technologies at the social and academic level.

Conclusions: Our analysis allows us to conclude that the lockdown was not always a problematic period, but that it allowed the exploration of existential issues and new behaviours likely to contribute to personal development.

Contribution: This article contributes to the research on COVID-19 and university students from a qualitative perspective that is still not widely used in the growing literature on the pandemic.

Mots-clés: university student, Spain, COVID-19, lockdown, quality of life, information and communication technologie

Shared activities and family sociabilities. The case of confined families with children aged 6 to 12
Catherine Dessinges

Research framework: The health crisis created by Covid 19 has tremendously changed the life of French people, especially the parents with children aged under 12 who had to reorganize their family routine to reinforce the family links.
Objective: This article presents the results of research on family shared activities during the lockdown and interrogate the forms and supports taken by the family sociability in and outside the home regarding a variety of socio-economic factors.
Methodology: The study uses a mixed-type methodology combining the results of a questionary survey conducted with 1731 parents of children aged between 6 and 12, with qualitative data from 20 individual phone interviews.
Results: The results of the research reveal, because of the spatial lockdown, a great increase in shared activities between parents and children with significant variations in leisure activities in regards to the parental gender, the socio familial factors, and the employment position. Intra-family sociabilities, on the other hand, have particularly encouraged the craze for audiovisual content, while information technology has been strongly mobilized to re-establish the link outside the home.
Conclusion: On the scale of families with children aged 6 to 12, the arrival of the Covid-19 has not only disrupted but also intensified and reshaped family social dynamics, with significant variations depending on family configurations. By insuring new uses driven by the absence of physical exchanges, digital communication technologies have carried out a dual technical and social mediation, both as a tool and instrument of sociabilities.
Contribution: By providing new insights into a major global health crisis, this article aims to better understand the impact of Covid 19 on family organizations. It thus contributes to sciences of education researches but also technology uses sociology, especially among young audiences and to sociological knowledge between digital practices and family life technology articulation.

Mots-clés: youth, family, home, networks, socialization, Internet, digital practice, online viewing

Challenges and delights of being together. Why living the health crisis lockdowns with family is revealing the singularities and tensions of the contemporary French family
Evelyne Barthou, Yann Bruna Bruna

Research Framework: This article is based on the TRANSICOVID research which aims to collect people’s experience and feelings during the coronavirus health crisis and to measure their impact on social, ecological and digital transitions. 

Objectives: The objective is to demonstrate that the new experiences of (re)cohabitation together, by interrupting the residential autonomy of young adults, have generated real family opportunities, but also tensions, closely linked to the sudden and sometimes forced return to the parental home. 

Methodology: Our approach is mixed as we conducted a quantitative analysis (N=2 383) from young adults and their parents confined with them as well as a qualitative analysis (N=36) of semi-structured interviews with this same population.

Results: These (re)cohabitations, strongly differentiated according to family configurations and sociodemographic characteristics of the individuals, proved to be favourable to the strengthening of family ties, to common activities, but were also the object of more or less tacit compromises, negotiations and tensions, hence the necessity of respecting personal and collective spaces and times. 

Conclusions: The family, especially when it values respect for each person and horizontality, continues to be a central pillar in the construction of the self, ensuring in turn a role of reassurance, support, recognition and appreciation, but also distancing and empowerment. 

Contribution: This article sheds light on the transformations of the contemporary French family, in particular with regard to the tension between familialization and individuation. 

Mots-clés: work-family reconciliation, (re)cohabitation, residential experience, parenting, young adult, space, education, digital practice, social time

‘‘I miss grandma and grandpa a lot’’. Impacts of socio-health measures on the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren
Isabel Côté, Christine Gervais, Sophie Doucet, Vicky Lafantaisie

Research Framework: The pandemic has disrupted the daily lives of families for over a year. In addition to the fears and uncertainties associated with COVID-19, the pandemic has required the redefinition of many daily routines, including leisure activities, access to services, work, schooling and interpersonal relationships. Children, who are unlikely to have COVID-19, have nonetheless experienced the impact of social and health measures put in place to address it.

Objectives: Using a child-based approach, this article seeks to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting social and health measures have affected the lives of families, particularly the grandparents/grandchildren relationship.

Methodology: This study uses a longitudinal qualitative design with three measurement times according to the various key moments of the pandemic. A total of 154 children and adolescents were interviewed three times in semi-structured interviews via Zoom.

Results: The results highlights the ways in which grandchildren and grandparents adapted to maintain their relationship during the pandemic. From this study, we find that grandchildren are concerned about their grandparents’ health, but still want face-to-face contact with them, despite the risks.

Conclusions: The relationship between grandchildren and their grandparents is an emotional and lasting one that endures and adapts in times of crisis.

Contribution: This article gives an account of the importance of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren, particularly in times of crisis. It also provides a better understand of how families have adapted during the pandemic.

Mots-clés: grandparents, child, adolescent, family, family ties, COVID-19

Outcomes and Lessons Learned of the Implementation of a Support Program for Families (OASIS+)
Élise Milot, Marie Grandisson, Sarah Martin-Roy, Fanny Leblanc

Research Framework: In Quebec, parents with a child who has an intellectual disability (ID) or autism have many unmet needs for respite and support for social participation. This article focuses on OASIS+, an experimental support program designed to meet such needs by working with students from professional training programs.

Objectives: This research aims to document the benefits of the OASIS+ experimental program for families and students, and to identify the lessons learned during its implementation.

Methodology: A mixed method approach was used with measures taken before, during and after the experimental program with parents, students, and advisory committee members.

Results: Seventeen families and ten social work and occupational therapy students participated in the OASIS+ program between September 2019 and March 2020. Of those accompanied, 41% had ID, 35% had autism and 24% had a dual diagnosis. Results indicate the following benefits for parents: decreased in the feeling of parental overload, an improvement in their social participation, and a better reconciliation of their family, social and professional roles. Students perceived an improvement in their knowledge and skills. Lessons learned include recruitment, pairing, student training and support, services delivered, coordination, and program sustainability

Conclusions: OASIS+ is an innovative program that supports families who have a child with ID or autism while helping to train future professionals.

Contribution: An evaluation of programs has shown the contribution of OASIS+ in supporting families and has identified key elements to consider in its implementation.

Keywords: family, respite, program evaluation, intellectual disability, autism, children with disabilities

New partnerships in their sixties: renewed possibilities?
Chloé Dauphinais

Research Framework: Based upon my master research in sociology, this article focuses on the experiences of people who have formed new partnerships in their sixties and more specifically the chosen conjugal arrangements adopted.

Objectives: These conjugal experiences are explored in order to deepen our understanding of conjugality by taken into account their temporality. Interest was given to the trajectories of these couples as well as to the dimension of pooling and cohabitation in relation to the different arrangements of daily life.

Methodology: The analyses are derived from ten individual life stories and comprehensive interviews. They were conducted with people whose partnerships were formed between the age of 60 and 68 years old.

Results: Forming a new relationship later in life appeared to these partners as a favourable period for a fulfilling love life, freed from several pressures associated with adulthood. The baggage of past experiences can act as emotional, relational, and material resources in these relationships. They are marked by the sharing and necessarily imply a management of daily life, which requires the partners to find the “right distance” (between management and personal time, as well as conjugal space).

Conclusions: Being in a partnership always involves sharing, regardless of the type of conjugality. The balance between fusion and autonomy has the potential to be articulated in

different living and relationship arrangements especially in later life.

Contribution: These results show the importance of taking into account the ages of life in the study of conjugality and how life trajectories influence conjugal choices, including those related to cohabitation.

Mots-clés: conjugality, common-law union, cohabitation, elderly partners, aging, life stories

Giving Remote Help: Reconciling Distance and Filial Duty to an Elderly Parent in Martinique
Myrtille Ferné

Research framework: This study addresses the issues faced by relatives living far from Martinique when their elderly parents become dependent, in a context where social and moral norms continue to make them the main actors of the elderly care.

Objectives: The theory of declining intergenerational solidarity should be qualified by focusing instead on the structural vulnerability issues faced by remote families in Martinique.

Methodology: Semi-directive interviews were conducted with three family caregivers living outside of Martinique. The analysis looks at the evolution of personal trade-offs and the types of resources mobilized to try to reconcile the duty of solidarity and autonomy with distance.

Results: The fragile balance that makes it possible to provide for the needs of an elderly parent at a distance is certainly due to the moral arbitration of relatives, but also to their ability to visit the place often, to find relays and to adapt to the ever-evolving situation. Due to the inadequacy of the public aid system, relatives have been forced to resort to free and/or undeclared help from women, reproducing a “chain of care” based on socio-economic and gender inequalities, or even to relocate to the detriment of their personal autonomy.

Conclusion: The migratory and demographic situation in Martinique is rooted in the asymmetrical (post-)colonial relations between France and its overseas territories. The resulting weakening of intergenerational relations of mutual aid poses a challenge to the precariousness of the living conditions of Martinique’s elderly.

Contribution: This work highlights the issues of the “family at a distance” in terms of assistance to the elderly and enriches the literature on “left-behind elderly” in the little-explored context of ageing Martinique.

Mots-clés: ageing, family at a distance, home care, Family caregiver, intergenerational relationship, public policy, Martinique

The photo album: an emotional family?
Doriane Molay

Research framework: With the democratization of photography, the practice of keeping a family album has become widespread. Objects produced from snapshots, texts, drawings and collages have imposed themselves as founding structures of unique affective communities. Yet, since this practice has entered the field of research, this medium has only been considered in terms of sociology leaving aside the study of forms, as well as in terms of artistic disciplines, thus projecting a particularism preventing any hermeneutics.

Objectives: This article aims to reread the practice of family album through its materiality so as to apprehend its significance for the subjects represented within a group whose specificities we must understand.

Methodology: In order to do this, we will rely on the collections of the Niepce Museum (Burgundy, France) and the consultation of nearly a thousand items, 219 of which form the core, mainly French photographic albums produced between 1880 and 1980.

Results: This research observes the important fragmentation of the album space, which it will consider as a place that gathers, preserves and secures the sensitive expression of a fantasized family. It also examines the album through the prism of play and the experiments in social relationships that it allows.

Conclusion: Thus, the album is at the heart of the discipline, social aesthetics, and sociological dimensions, which confirms their co-dependence and testifies to the expressive scope of the object itself.

Contribution: To our knowledge, no study has considered a sufficiently large corpus of relics and disciplines are often dissociated by research in order to consider the family album in its entirety, for its form and its content.

Mots-clés: family configuration, identity building, symbolic order, perceptions, family photograph, spatial practice, public/private, life stories

Motivations for male couples to adopt in Quebec and their preference for age, sex, and ethnic origin of the child
Éric Feugé, Thomas Girard-Pelletier, Charlotte Dupont

Research Framework: Compared to lesbian women, gay men face more barriers that may hinder their intention to parent. In addition to biological constraints, they live in a heterosexist society that traditionally places the role of caregiver to women. The gay community often defines itself outside of parenting. In Quebec, thanks to Bill 84 of 2002, same-sex couples have access to domestic adoption through Child Protective Services (CPS), which allows them to choose several characteristics of their child.

Objectives: The aim of the study is to examine the genesis of the desire for fatherhood of male couples in Quebec and their motivations for choosing domestic adoption over another mode of access to parenthood, as well as their preference for the age, sex and ethnic origin of their child.

Methodology: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with sixty-nine fathers met in their home. The interview transcripts were thematically analyzed with Nvivo.

Results: The results indicate that a majority of fathers have had a strong desire for fatherhood for a very long time and chose adoption mainly out of altruistic consideration. Most fathers did not have a preference for the characteristics of their children except for age (under 2 years old). When preferences were expressed, they were mostly for white boys.

Conclusion: The discussion highlights that in the discourse of these gay men, their desire for parenthood does not seem to stand out from that of other fathers, but that heteronormativity impacts their motivations to become adoptive fathers. Gender stereotypes and intersectionality are also discussed to explain preferences related to children’s gender and ethnicity.

Contribution: This study addresses the lack of data on gay adoptive fathers in Quebec. It will help to dispel any preconceptions that they may have about the adoption process.

Mots-clés: adoptive gay fathers, heteronormativity, intersectionality, gender, ethnic background