The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on society in southern Europe : the case of social innovation in the care of early childhood in Barcelona

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A distinctive role of family care defines the southern European welfare models. Several studies have highlighted the functional overload for families with children under three years old, in which unpaid work is mainly provided by women (even when they work full time), in a context in which the public and private childcare provision is insufficient to meet families' needs. In Barcelona, the emergence of socially innovative projects has partially covered the demand for 0-3 childcare. These projects are based on communities of care made up of parents and educators. However, COVID-19 has severely impacted the participants in social innovations such as childminders, free- education nurseries, and community care groups. Educators working in these projects struggled to survive economically when the 2020 spring lockdown forced them to close, while the closures obliged mothers to juggle work with care. This article presents the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mothers and educators involved in socially innovative 0-3 childcare projects in Barcelona. The paper uses qualitative and quantitative empirical material gathered between May 2020 and June 2021: interviews with representatives of childcare associations, educators and mothers (before and after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Spain), and a survey with mothers with children under three (after the lockdown). The results of our investigation show that the communities behind the projects constituted a crucial resource. Parents and educators helped each other, sharing care and financial resources to keep the projects going and find new solutions to the work-family balance.
Translated title of the contributionEl impacto de la pandemia COVID-19 en la sociedad en el sur de Europa: el caso de la innovación social en el cuidado de la primera infancia en Barcelona
Original languageEnglish
Article numbera131
Number of pages20
JournalRevista Española de Sociología
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022


  • Social innovation
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Southern Europe
  • Early childhood care


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