Emile Durkheim defined “anomie” as a condition where society becomes unstable due to a breakdown in society. Covid 19 and the consequent lockdown qualify to be called an anomic condition in the society.
Work from home requires knowledge about technology and the ability to learn this skill, and the concept of Pierre Bourdieu's “Social Capital” thus comes in. Bourdieu defines social capital as resources that are gained by being a part of a network of social relationships. Thus, people who most probably belong to the upper strata of the society will already hold the social capital that allows them to be much more skillful and adapt faster to this change.
Technological understanding is not free from bias. Besides there is a need of technological equipments. Under these eight subcategories of classes in India, only the top three tiers of classes are able to afford the equipment which is needed to work from home. Thus, the sudden announcement of the closing of offices had created a much larger rift between the upper and the lower classes.
Karl Marx divided the world into two broad categories of “have” and “have nots”. Thus, during the first lockdown of March 2020, it got out in the open who belonged to which category in India.
The classical work “A Room of One’s Own” authored by Virginia Woolf states how freedom and space are correlated. One cannot put their minds at focus with constant distractions of the world. But not all classes in India are privileged enough to get a separate working space at home. Thus, the class divides shows up here too.
Sylvia Walby in her work which discusses the themes of “Gender, Class, and Stratification” clearly states how the labor done by women is rarely compensated or taken into consideration. Thus, when the government suddenly announced work from home, what was not taken into account was the increase in burden for women of the household.
Rukmini Sen writes that there is an increase in domestic abuse which may continue with an upward trend if the women have to suffer a restricted work place with WFH policies. The National Commission for Women noted a significant rise in the number of complaints of domestic violence, rising from 2,960 in 2019 to 5.297 in 2020.
Recent literature on working-from-home has also reflected on women’s increased burden of housework and childcare during the lockdowns. Ashwini Deshpande, in her article- ‘What does Work-from-home mean for women?’ talks about the gendered experiences of working from home and its implications in comparison to those for men and their experiences.
Maria Mies’s (1982) study of lacemakers in the village of Narsapur in Andhra Pradesh is a pioneering study of home-based work in the context of globalization and of the intersection of patriarchy and capital accumulation. Mies devises the concept of ‘housewifisation’ to refer to women’s entrenchment within the home and the valuation of their work as non-work in the setting of home-based work. Thus, women’s work may lose some credibility in WFH situations.
Amulya Gopala krishnan writes that, “In India, autonomy for middle-class women has been won on the back of labor by other women, domestic workers, as our needs meet their economic necessities. "The new WFH environment may thus result in shift of burden of housework to working women due to societal expectations, thus hampering their effeciency. It may also lead to decreased requirements of domestic help and thus affect their economic status too.
It may be noted that men who were staying with parents or in a joint family were rarely helpful towards the housework because of the patriarchal notions of the domestic space, where they may get taunted for helping their spouse in housework. As such, Indian men spend an average of 52 minutes a day on housework, compared to nearly six hours by women. It needs to be seen if they will pick up the burden of household chores if both the spouses start working from home.
Sociologist Arlie Hochschild believes that, “tired parents flee a world of unresolved quarrels and unwashed laundry for the orderliness and harmony at work”. In current scenario, work places have become more engaging and companies also encourage their employees to form social networks apart from work commitments.
But in WFH, this socialization gets restricted. Also people now act increasingly more efficient. WFH thus takes away the ‘hidden pockets of inefficiency’ as stated by Arlie Hochschild.