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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.