I could spend all day in my pyjamas, but then I might easily end up on the sofa, and I don’t want to do that. I have made a deal with myself that I have to get something done every day. […] The situation feels a bit like: “Hey, could we please just move on?” It’s terrifying that people are dying. And it’s awful that the world has just stopped. To me, it means that I have lost my job. But then again, I can start emptying my freezer. (“A day”, in Politiken 25 March 2020)1

This is an example of how the dilemmas of a new everyday life were experienced by a 55-year-old woman in a provincial town in Denmark during corona lockdown.2 During this period, many of the well-established and taken-for-granted everyday rhythms of going to work or school came to a halt. Everyday life was altered, as most individuals, couples and families were compelled to stay at home. Their ordinary routines and rhythms of leaving and returning home and their usual experiences of time, were disrupted or challenged. The home turned into a contested space that had to accommodate home-schooling, working from home, meals, housework, family time, me-time and leisure.

During the lockdown in the spring of 2020, most of us tried to calibrate and synchronise these new everyday practices in order to avoid anxiety, protect family members, and continue on to the best of our abilities. The exceptional everyday life during “corona”3 was also gradually “normalised” into new daily routines and rhythms, which materialised in new ways of staging the home; by incorporating zones for work and school, for example.

Has the corona crisis and lockdown given rise to new kinds of temporalities, and how were they practised and entangled in contemporary everyday life? And how did such new temporalities collide or converge with the established and “normal” routines and rhythms, pasts, presents, and futures that permeate daily life? This article aims to understand the composite times in everyday practices by identifying and qualifying the different versions of time, rhythms, and temporalities that were practised and contested during the lockdown and by analysing how individuals and families in Denmark navigated between them in their everyday lived.

Investigating Time during Lockdown

The primary empirical material for this analysis is 45 Danish diaries from a single day in the second half of March 2020. 21 of the diaries were created by people aged between 10 and 72 years in a variety of social situations from different parts of Denmark and published in a newspaper4 between 12 March and 2 April 2020. The backbone of the material consists of 24 diaries written by Master’s students of European ethnology and their teacher on Wednesday, 25 March 2020. The majority of the students (who were aged between 23 and 50 years) spent the day in the Copenhagen area, but a few of them had moved in with their parents in other parts of the country during lockdown. Written by more or less experienced ethnographers, these diaries are very reflective autoethnographic texts. They were written as part of the students’ course work, with the aim of subjecting them to cultural analysis at a later date.5 To supplement these diaries, many other kinds of empirical material describing everyday life in Denmark were collected during the lockdown in March and April, as well as during the gradual reopening of society throughout May and June. This material includes newspapers, women’s magazines, social media posts (Instagram in particular), informal conversations, observations in public spaces and shops, and autoethnography. The method used here implies an understanding of “the field” as converging with the ethnographer’s own life (cf. Wilk 2011). By way of this methodological bricolage (cf. Ehn, Löfgren & Wilk 2016), this article will explore and discuss the various everyday articulations and materialisations of temporal practices during the corona lockdown, and how they clash and converge with temporal practices of a “near past” – the pre-corona life.

Theoretically, the investigation is shaped by a performative understanding of both time and everyday life as practised and materialised in multiple versions, which may collide, converge, or be coordinated. The concept of time as a heterogeneous rather than unequivocal phenomenon also draws upon conceptual history, in which the existence of a plurality of temporal regimes has been discussed, qualified (e.g. Koselleck 1979; Eriksen 2014) and conceptualised as practices of synchronisation – the ongoing attempts to bring multiple times in sync (Jordheim 2014). Recently, some ethnological studies have employed a similar understanding of multiple temporalities as part of everyday assemblages of materiality, affects and activities (e.g. Löfgren 2014; Damsholt 2019). Furthermore, scholars within Science and Technology Studies have explored how temporal choreographies and politics of time are inscribed, calibrated, and choreographed in medical care, and in public and digital services (e.g. Thompson 2005; Wajcman 2014).

Due to the corona restrictions, the fieldwork is limited to the Danish context, primarily to the Copenhagen area and pivots upon middle-class environment. Thus, it is by no means exhaustive. However, the idea is not to give a full account of the pandemic in Denmark nor of European everyday life during corona. Instead, using the prism of the lockdown, the article will contribute to the emerging ethnological understandings of everyday temporalities. In order to analyse multiple temporalities from a performative perspective, the discursive, affective and material dimensions of practice are crucial (cf. Damsholt & Jespersen 2014). Moreover, the analytical strategy is to understand temporalities in everyday life through conflict or crisis. When different rhythms, routines or rituals collide and become emotional battlegrounds, they also become visible and open for investigation (cf. Löfgren 1993, 2014; Scheer 2019). Approaching everyday life through the lockdown may advance our understanding of how contemporary lives unfold through multiple, entangled, and competing temporalities, and how that shapes and changes our practices and experiences.

Time and Everyday Life

How do we practise time in everyday life? This question is based on the premise that time is not an unequivocal phenomenon across cultures and epochs. As time cannot be observed directly, it must be analysed in terms of how it is practised, categorised, experienced, materialised, and structured into different qualities of time, that is, temporalities in the plural. In everyday life, standardised clock time is challenged by a multiplicity of rhythms, disruptions, speeds, repetitions, pasts, and presents, which emerge from our aging bodies, family life, rituals, nature, working life, housework, digital devices, holidays, education, memories, and from our hopes and fears for the future of global climate change and global health. In order to avoid disruptions and conflicts between such competing temporalities, we attempt to calibrate and synchronise the multiple times into temporal and material assemblages, which, in turn, shape our everyday practices and affects.

The rich body of literature on the social phenomenon of time includes the history of time measurement and the transition from traditional, cyclic temporality to modern, linear clock time (e.g. Thompson 1967; Frykman & Löfgren 1979; Glennie & Thrift 2009). It has been argued that individual time, family time and historical time are practised simultaneously, and that attempts are made to synchronise them (e.g. Hareven 1982; Zerubavel 1981). Within anthropology and the sociology of religion, a plethora of specific temporal cosmologies – especially ritual and sacred time versus secular time – have been conceptualised and discussed since Durkheim. More recently, the increasing acceleration and speed in digital society have been described as a new, emerging temporal regime (e.g. Hylland Eriksen 2001; Hanson 2007; Wajcman & Dodd 2017).

For many years, ethnologists have explored how everyday time is structured by meals, work seasons, life events, and narrated and collected in the objects of life stories (e.g. Højrup 1966; Eriksen 1994; Otto & Pedersen 1998). Routines are understood as micro-practices, which sequence time in shared choreographies that make everyday life run smoothly, or as an arena of colliding rhythms (Ehn & Löfgren 2010). Mundane routines like meals and housework can also be viewed as being emotional, as they are performed in affective moods and may cause friction, when discordant rhythms of everyday life collide (cf. Ehn, Löfgren & Wilk 2016). Different temporalities may be materialised by visiting a summer cottage or other remote, “out-of-time” places. Mundane objects, such as a handbag, can be seen as “time machines”, intertwining the past, present and future (Löfgren 2016), and mobile phones are involved in coordinating, timing and scheduling our busy lives (cf. Wajcman 2014). Practising time also incorporates the political and moral dimensions of shaping the future, such as productivity, climate issues, and environmental sustainability.

Time is lived in an array of social distinctions, in which the time of some people is valued more highly than the time of others. To some, time seems to be a scarce resource, not to be wasted, while others have too much time on their hands; they have to kill time. Furthermore, a theory of how different life modes each structure time according to their own distinct logic has been developed (Højrup 1983). Thus, time in everyday life is ambiguous and multiple and seems neither to be practised nor experienced in the same way within contemporary households, across recent decades, or by society at large. Due to this ambiguity, we might analytically differentiate between distinct qualities of time, for instance in the gap between objective time and the subjective experience of it. Yet a relatively small proportion of the research focuses on the apparently mundane plurality of temporal practices in daily life. The corona lockdown created a state of exception, where normal practices were disturbed and became visible and debated, and this provided us with an opportunity to explore everyday temporalities. Thus, the lockdown will serve as an analytical prism, which magnified or destabilised rhythms, conflicts, utopias, and ideals of the good life, as well as hopes and fears for the future, and a longing for a recent past, which otherwise tends to be hidden or taken for granted in the humdrum of everyday life (cf. Löfgren 1993: 103–104).

The Temporal Structure of Everyday Life

A shared everyday life has to be synchronised by way of temporal orderings and choreographies, and by juggling competing activities throughout the day (e.g. work-life balance). The sequencing of daily activities, and the scheduling of family time, “quality time”, or “me-time”, etc., imply micro-practices that sequence time into shared choreographies, which make everyday life run smoothly (Ehn & Löfgren 2010). When the corona lockdown was announced in Denmark on 11 March 2020, the well-established, tacit and taken-for-granted everyday routines of most Danes came to an abrupt standstill. The normal rhythms of going to work or day-care or school were cancelled, as everybody except those fulfilling key functions in society was sent home.

The temporal structure of modern everyday life is often understood as a result of industrialisation, which involved a transition from traditional, cyclic temporality to modern, linear clock time (e.g. Thompson 1967; Frykman & Löfgren 1979; Glennie & Thrift 2009). The way in which we understand time is thought to have been fundamentally altered by the temporal parameters of work, that is, industrial time, in which labour became measured and regulated by linear clock time. The establishment of the standard eight-hour day and the five-day week in the decades after the Second World War institutionalised the dichotomy between work and private time. Even though fewer workers currently clock in and out of their jobs and digital technologies have erased time zones and specific working spaces, the logic of industrial time – with discrete blocks of time dedicated to one specific kind of activity, that is eight hours of work, sleep and recreation – still permeates our everyday life (Wajcman 2014). Thus, working life is considered to be a mundane yet essential tool in the temporal scaffolding of daily life. How, then, did people react to the collapse of the industrial logic of discrete blocks of time?

The Danish government’s decision to implement a general lockdown divided the population into four broadly defined groups: 1) those with key functions, who had to fight the pandemic and struggle with its inherent timing due to the logics of contagion and mortality; 2) those who were able to carry out their jobs, education or school work from home, thus transforming their usual activities into online versions; 3) those who were unable to carry out their jobs from home or were too young to attend school; and 4) those who were unemployed, retired or living in an institution. For the first two groups, the lockdown tended to intensify daily work hours and rhythms, whereas normal routines and daily rhythms radically changed for the last two groups, effecting a sense of nothingness. Some people in these groups welcomed the emptiness as increased leisure time and extra time to spend with their family, while others experienced the loss of the usual rhythms as a period of waiting or killing time.

Thus, the social differences that lead to some people’s time being more valued than other people’s time were reinforced. For some, time became an even scarcer resource, while others suddenly had time to play, bake, and complete long-planned DIY projects in their homes or gardens. And some people did not know what to do with their new surplus of time. As individuals from the same family or household were often part of different groups, the various temporalities caused by the lockdown meant potential collisions and conflicts. Within the same home, one partner could be involved in online meetings throughout the day, while the other might decide to repaint the living room. School children would be solving maths problems or reading assignments, while their younger sisters and brothers could play all day long. Some children found it hard to understand why only one of their parents was available, when they were both at home.

Rhythms most often imply a spatial dimension. When the normal everyday life was transformed and individuals, couples, and families had to stay at home, new spatial arrangements emerged as families were compelled to turn their home into a shared space for school, work, meals, exercise, housework, and leisure. Some families tried to multitask around the same dining table. A family sharing only one computer had to make strict schedules for when each parent would be responsible for home-schooling, so the other could participate in online meetings.6 Others tried to disperse their activities into different rooms or corners of the house. The search for an undisturbed place to sit sometimes ended in discussions about whose job was most important. The concept of “a room of one’s own” regained new meaning and became invested with novel kinds of affects. Several women in a mid-life situation recounted how they sought refuge in the basement, the garden, or the bathroom in order to have time alone.7 Bedrooms, cellars and attics were transformed into official meeting spaces.

Working from home suited some people. Others felt that work-life became even harder to balance, as work time and family time merged, and working hours and time off became blurred. This was especially the case for students who had children to take care of:

I read a bit of a book – try to catch up on studying, which there is not enough time for during these days that incorporate working from home, childcare, studying from home, illness, and life-crises. (Diary no. 14)

One might expect students without children at home to have fewer problems with working and studying from home. However, a recurrent theme in the student diaries was the challenge of maintaining working hours and intensity, when the normal rhythms and structures were set aside. Several of them tried to create new rules about when to get up in the morning, when to work, and when to finish working, and some attempted to create a weekly schedule. But they soon found that their new structures disintegrated, as everything appeared to be of equal importance – or equally unimportant.

My morning evaporates quickly. I am waiting in a queue on the telephone as number 11, because I want to cancel some train tickets to Prague in the Easter Holidays. I wait, accompanied by various pop-tunes, which the train company must have chosen, and they are quite all right. While waiting, I try to optimise time by checking my holiday pay on the internet. One practical to-do activity merges into another. I call my sister. She is busy. I drink coffee, eat yogurt and fruit. For too long, we are sitting in the kitchen small talking. We agree that we should probably make a weekly schedule, in order to make our daily lives more structured. That would be better. However, it is also nice to have as much time as we have for now. (Diary no. 10)

For many people, time during lockdown seemed to slip through their fingers. Without a contrast between working outside the home and being at home, all activities seemed to coalesce into an indistinguishable mash. This is a recurrent theme in all of the diaries written by people working from home. However, there are also differences in the ways in which this frustration was articulated. In his life-mode analysis, Danish ethnologist Thomas Højrup emphasises that the population is culturally heterogeneous when it comes to the ways in which everyday life is temporally structured. Rather than dividing the population into classes, Højrup offers an (analytical) division into a number of life-modes, that is, fundamentally different forms of practice, ideology, and ways of structuring everyday life. While some people prefer time to be separated into delineated blocks of working time and leisure, others thrive when their work-life is integrated with their private life (1983). From this perspective, one can explain why those who prefer a strict differentiation between working hours and leisure time experienced the lockdown as a situation in which work invaded their private sphere at home. They simply missed the feeling of getting off work – the moment when they were used to sensing the transition into the different quality of leisure time by moving to another space. Others just tried to keep things separate by a strict schedule:

To have just a little bit of normality in our daily life, my boyfriend and I have now decided to get up at 7:30 am every day. We have to take a bath and get dressed, every day! This was a problem in the beginning. Then, we did not care. But the days began to conflate, and everything got really strange. Now it is getting better. We have a routine, which we try to stick to, and we have divided work and leisure time in order to ensure that we neither take the whole day off nor accidentally work all day long (as if that would ever happen). (Diary no. 23)

The author seems to struggle with keeping different activities separate in distinct blocks of time and cannot make sense of a day where activities conflate. However, even those who normally enjoyed their working life and family life intertwining in a more organic way than strict working hours allow, found it hard to differentiate time:

I’m having a miserable day. It feels like I have a stone on my head. I am so tired, and my brain feels like it is drooping beneath my eyes. Usually I am pretty good at working from home. But little by little, everything is becoming indistinct. (Diary no. 1)

The experience of time losing its distinctive qualities and becoming blurred is a recurrent theme in diaries from different life-modes. There was nothing to create structure, rhythms, or breaks. Instead, everything merged into some kind of temporal sameness, as social life and working life were conducted through the same computer screen:

I miss my normal life; bicycling to work, to meet colleagues, and especially teaching off-line. I am so tired of having to do everything via a computer – working life and social life. But we will manage, and I really appreciate that our flat is large enough to allow all three of us to have a separate room to work in. […] One of the great challenges is to remember to take breaks or just switch to another chair. The usual breaks you get when you talk to a colleague, go to the toilet, or get a cup of coffee are absent when working from home. (Diary no. 2)

Even if one normally prefers a more organic integration of working life and other activities than traditional industrial time prescribes, sitting on the same chair and behind the same screen all day did not match this author’s ideas about the good everyday life. Some families tried to create difference or structure in the temporal uniformity of the lockdown by setting up spatial arrangements, for example a clear working space that they could “leave”. A journalist described how his daughter got dressed every morning, packed her school bag and left home – only to walk around the house and re-enter it when home-schooling started, and her mother had transformed into a school teacher.8 Different everyday temporalities are often materialised, for example by changing clothes when coming home from work. As we saw in the quote from diary no. 23 above, one way of attempting to stage a working day was by getting dressed in proper work clothes every day. This was a way to materialise working hours by wearing “real” clothes rather than comfy leisure clothes: “I have a hypothesis that I am more efficient if I look like an efficient person” (Diary no. 16).

Some couples made up rules about not wearing sweatpants at home, while a journalist wrote that during isolation, she only wore “official clothing” on the upper part of her body (i.e., a jacket, shirt and a bra), whereas the lower part was constantly wearing pyjama bottoms. Along with her made-up face, the upper part of her body was the only part that was visible during the many online meetings and interviews that constituted her job.9 Indeed, wearing make-up can be understood as a way of organising time (Ehn & Löfgren 2010: 97) – a way of marking the difference between private and public time and space. For many students, the scheduled weekly hours of online teaching became appreciated in new ways, as they represented an anchor point in the otherwise blurred zone of confluent activities. For those who only had a single room to live in, it seemed even more imperative to mark the different time zones:

I put on clothes and make the bed. It is an important thing to do every morning, as I only have one room to inhabit, as my friend rents the other room of the apartment. (Diary no. 22)

For this student, making the bed and getting dressed was a way to create a contrast between day and night. Making the bed was a way of materialising the diverse qualities of time. Tidying up the room was also about tidying up time and everyday life, as it might otherwise descend into a chaotic mess, without order.

As mentioned above, working life is considered to be an essential tool in the temporal structure of our daily lives. However, the corona lockdown reveals that it is not so much the fact that work is measured in hours and minutes that makes up the logic of mundane industrial or modern time. Instead, it turns out that the contrast between different activities and the spatial and material stuff they involve are essential elements in the scaffolding of everyday times. Without the rhythms, breaks and punctuation of shifting from one space, outfit, stage, or activity to another, everything seems to conflate into a temporal porridge of sameness.

For many people, the new surplus of time at home during the period of isolation was an ambiguous affective phenomenon. It allowed space for some of the students to enjoy more me-time, even if that time should have been spent on studying instead:

Overall, I find it hard to stay motivated for anything but cosy leisure activities. Reading is half-hearted, to put it mildly. […] In all honesty, I quite frankly enjoy sitting in the sun with my needlework. All by myself. Sunshine, coffee, needlework. That is happiness. […] In a way, it feels a bit awkward, as we are in the middle of a national crisis, and some people are ripping the heads off their partners and offspring. But still, we are having a good time at home. My partner still leaves home to go to work, so I have lots of time on my own. Yummy! (Diary no. 13)

In this quote, time and temporal moods appear to be not only individual matters but also entangled with the rhythm of the author’s partner and thereby something social and negotiated. This opens up for an understanding of everyday temporalities as an affective battleground of colliding rhythms.

Routines – Temporal and Affective Choreographies

From the perspective of Billy Ehn and Orvar Löfgren, routines are the performance of mundane or repetitive tasks, to which one does not give much thought, but which organise and support everyday life and draw invisible maps, that make everyday life run smoothly (2010). Routines are also rhythms and patterns by which we sequence and synchronise time with each other within a household. Routines are created through repetitions of an almost unconscious, silent, and mutual choreography. Once established, they become invisible to the individual or the household in which they are performed. However, the taken-for-granted routines – the “humdrum minutiae” of everyday existence, in which we collectively, silently and inarticulately coordinate our everyday activities (ibid.: 86) – may become visible and apparent by virtue of their absence, when they are broken during a crisis.

During the lockdown, the everyday structure of work versus leisure was difficult to sustain, as we have seen above. However, the surplus of time at home was, in some cases, also converted into more leisure time and time together as a couple:

My partner wakes up and mumbles in a dissatisfied manner but gets up and takes the bun dough we made yesterday out of the fridge. It has to stand on the kitchen table for an hour before baking. A perfect excuse to stay in bed for an hour longer. Otherwise, we have tried to create a new structure in our daily life and do more or less what we used to do. Get up early, take a shower, eat breakfast, get dressed, work. However, all the things we usually do not have time for seem to sneak in. Snuggling in bed in the morning is the only thing that I have not got tired of yet. (Diary no. 3)

Typical leisure or weekend activities like baking your own bread or cakes crept in everywhere on ordinary weekdays. Many accounts of the new corona-framed everyday life describe an increase in cooking new or more complicated dishes. In Denmark, the amount of yeast purchased increased by 141% and cleaning products by 160%.10 Staying at home and protecting one’s family also meant the “return of the housewife”, a repetitive and thorough washing of the home with disinfection products,11 and using hand sanitiser when returning home after shopping. These new cleaning rituals eventually turned into trivial everyday pursuits. For some, time was difficult to kill, and new routines composed of trivial undertakings emerged:

Dear diary, the world is affected by a pandemic. Covid-19 has settled over us like a toxic fog, which drags elderly people and other vulnerable groups into death. When I write it like that, it sounds dramatic, but it is not. Paradoxically, it is pretty boring. […] One of the things with which I have occupied my time during quarantine is counting. As I do not have ceiling boards, I have counted the floorboards instead. There are 32. In each of them, there are 10 spikes, which makes 320 spikes all in all (in my living room). But then again, who would bother to count them, so I calculated the number instead. Like death, monotony is impossible to cheat. (Diary no. 23)

In this quote, tediousness is intermingled with the sense of an ever-present yet distant global drama. For many people, the new excess of time at home during isolation turned into new, ambiguous affective moods. It created boredom and joy, intertwined with guilt: “Today was yet another morning where Peter and I woke up with the sun blazing in and a weird yet recognizable shared feeling of a huge elation over this semi-quarantine” (Diary no. 24).

As Sara Ahmed has argued, although moods are social, not all of us are able to attune to the same (public or national) moods. “Attunement might register that we are affected by what is around, but it does not necessarily decide how we are affected. Could misattunements be an expression of the contingency of this work?” (2014: 16). To attune to and get in sync with a public mood requires “mood work”. However, this work is often unequally distributed. Ahmed’s agenda with the concept of “affect aliens” is different to the analysis at hand. However, the affective dilemmas displayed in several of the corona diaries may make sense, when seen from her theoretical perspective. The paradox between the fear and empathy that was engendered by the global drama of the pandemic on the one hand and the pure joy of being safe at home in the sun and together on the other called for mood work.

In order to enjoy time together with partners and family, it was necessary to find new activities to fill the time. Doing jigsaw puzzles or playing board games reached new heights of popularity, along with reading novels. During the first days of the lockdown, queues of customers formed outside bookshops, where the materials required for these activities could be purchased.12 The same lines could be observed outside DIY stores, yarn stores and shops selling sewing supplies. Online shops that sold hobby materials were overwhelmed by the rapid increase in demand. All kinds of needlework filled the time at home:

Yesterday, I finished my newest cross stich embroidery. Oh yes. And the blanket for my friend’s baby is advancing rapidly. The sweater in size 2 years is on hold. Those fucking sleeves. But I am having a great time during this corona-period. (Diary no. 13)

Instagram hashtags like #nevernotknitting, #isolationknitting, #lockdownknitting or a Danish profile translating into #knittogetherapart gave the feeling of being in sync with other people all over Europe in cultivating such new routines. Other diary writers – often differentiated by gender – played computer games all day (and all night) long:

11 am. I should be reading, but I am tired and lazy today, so I take my mac-book and open up my best and worst investment during quarantine – Sims 4! When you cannot go outside and do something in the real world, then you can game instead. (Diary no. 22)

Gaming provided a parallel world and time, which easily outcompeted the limited repertoire of activities available at home. However, because gaming and social interaction took place via the same digital screen, multitasking also had a tendency to steal time and engagement from real life social relations:

At 5 pm. I was done with reading and felt the need to go outside in the last rays of sunshine. I logged on to the messenger-thread “beer-production” via Facetime to see if anybody would join in and drink some beers with me at a distance. […] While Matias spoke with enthusiasm about his new job, I happened to activate a burger game on Adam’s and my screen. You had to open a mouth and eat the burgers that came flying across the screen. We became quite absorbed in the game and only half listened to Mathias. I felt guilty afterwards. (Diary no. 15)

In this case, parallel worlds turned into rivalling temporalities. However, the lockdown also generated new, shared online rhythms of sociality. Whereas singing together from balconies became popular in the southern part of Europe, singing together at a distance via the Danish national broadcast company (DR) turned into a new morning ritual and cherished Friday evening pastime for many Danes. This created a weekly rhythm in a new and affective way. As one cannot sing together online without getting caught in time lag and thus musical desynchronisation, people sang together in front of their televisions, which displayed a piano player sitting alone at home singing to and playing popular songs. As lyrics were displayed on the screen, people sang along in their homes all over the country, and this practise was often described as emotional.13 Sing-alongs have dramatically increased in popularity among all generations, and this is one new development during lockdown which has been praised.14 Some people also established a new ritual of flying the Danish flag every Friday.15 Some individuals living alone moved in with one of their single friends, to avoid loneliness. Others, having their family and friends at a long distance due to their working abroad, found that they spent more time than usual with their relatives, as all were isolated at home and had time for long Skype calls.16

However, spending all of one’s time at home with family members also felt like confinement for many people. Conflicts and bad moods escalated, and cases of domestic violence increased. Divorces and relationship crises occurred as a result of couples being cooped up in close quarters during quarantine, without time on their own.17

Whereas the lockdown created or reinforced conflicts and colliding rhythms at home, some temporal conflicts silently dissipated. Kindergartens and nurseries were among the first places to reopen after the Danish lockdown, to enable parents to work from home more easily. The reopening of these day care centres involved new rules, which prevented parents from entering the institutions. Several preschool teachers argue that this has led to a much calmer atmosphere and daily rhythm. Before the lockdown, parents picking up their children often created friction, as they interrupted the games and activities of their own child as well as the rest of the group. Now, the parents stay outside the institution, and the children’s playtime continues uninterrupted:

I guess it is a big change for the parents, but their absence inside the institution has led to a new sense of calm and composure among the children. The transition between home and nursery is much easier for the children. Our focus on the children has markedly improved, as we do not have long conversations with parents. The room has become the children’s room instead of belonging to the grown-ups. This has improved the everyday life of the children a lot. (Diary, nursery teacher, May)18

The conflicts that arose when parents’ time interrupted the rhythm of the children were eliminated. When I spoke to staff members from such institutions, all of them expressed the hope that these new rules will stay in place for as long as possible.19 This change to daily practice would probably have been considered impossible if anybody had suggested it before corona lockdown. Thus, it is in-keeping with the following, somewhat prophetic argument presented by Ehn and Löfgren:

From a cultural perspective, a crisis may, however, also generate incentives to search for new solutions that in their turn, after some time, become routines. This means that the breakdown of everyday patterns of behaviour need not be entirely paralyzing. Once basic needs are satisfied again, the crisis can provide a chance for people to rethink and reorganise their life. Much that was once considered a given and absolutely necessary could turn out to be unimportant or could change into a new practice. (2010: 119)

This opportunity to reorganise one’s life also features in the diaries, where several of the authors mention that they had the opportunity to experiment with new daily routines during lockdown:

I started this corona time with lots of worries and anxiety, but now I try to take one day at a time – trying to make the most of this strange situation. I practice yoga every day, and today I took my third online dance class (with my favourite dancer), and I can practise the things I have always wanted to. I guess there are probably many who feel this way at the moment. I imagine the possibility of a new kind of daily life, which we would not have experienced otherwise. A daily life with more TIME. At least I feel really inspired to do all the things that have been difficult to find time for in a daily life with study, work, and a paid job. (Diary no. 9)

Even among those who did not have to reorganise their life to a great extent, mood work took place during the several months of lockdown. The new times were calibrated and synchronised into temporal, affective and material assemblages. This involved juggling competing requirements in order to protect the family, work from home if feasible, and carry on. Nevertheless, the sense of a state of exception gradually evaporated. The sudden and full standstill of time that was experienced in the first few weeks of lockdown – when nobody knew how long it would last, and everybody hoped for a rapid return to normal life – gradually became normalised.

The exceptional lockdown everyday life gradually transformed into something familiar, and new daily routines and rhythms emerged: singing together at a distance, baking cakes, knitting, staying outside nurseries and homes for old people, keeping a distance in supermarkets and constantly sanitising one’s hands. New ways of staging the home materialised, too, such as turning the dinner table or bedroom into spaces for work and school.

During one week in June, while writing this analysis, I went to a shop where a customer loudly declared that she was unsure “how to do it right”, as this was her first time in a shop since 11 March. To her, the bottle of hand sanitiser by the entrance, the plastic screen in front of the cashier, the bodily micro-practices of waiting in line with greater distance between shoppers and exchanging goods and payment without touching or getting too close were totally new. By June, most people had long-since adopted these practices in an almost unconscious, silent and mutual choreography. Belonging to a risk group because of her age and a lung condition, this particular shopper had become out of sync with the majority of her fellow citizens and the normalisation of new everyday routines. She had to attune and learn to synchronise with the shared moods and rhythms of the public space.

Out of Sync – Colliding Temporalities of the Body

Our biological bodies make us all vulnerable to infection from the coronavirus. However, variations in age and health divide the population into different risk groups. During spring, there was an ongoing debate about who should belong to the high-risk group, and the demarcations changed over time. Often, people did not recognise themselves in the official categories they were placed in by the government. Some became frightened and felt very vulnerable and therefore avoided all contact with strangers and close relations, while others deemed the classification of their body and age into the high-risk group to be an exaggeration. Age in itself became a mark of vulnerability, labelling bodies according to time in a new way. However, many found that their self-perception was out of sync with the new pandemic taxonomies. Many middle-aged people tried to impose rules on their elderly parents, forbidding them to leave their homes, while their teenage children pleaded to be allowed to meet with their friends as usual.

The new temporalities of the pandemic were also articulated conceptually and materialised in graphs and diagrams displaying the infection rate, death toll, and projected mortality rate, and these quickly became included in everyday conversations. The lockdown and increased restrictions upon everyday life were articulated as “a race against time”. Due to the early lockdown or other fortuitous circumstances, the Danish population was only mildly affected by the pandemic in the spring of 2020. The disastrous mortality rates that struck Italy, Spain, France, and the UK at that time were avoided.20 Accordingly, in the everyday context, the corona lockdown affected the majority of Danish bodies in much less dramatic ways than in other areas of the world. Thus, having protected the bodies against the risk of contagion, the next public health concern, which was also shared by many individuals, was how to continue the usual everyday practices of exercise.

When fitness centres and sports facilities closed down, walking became an alternative way of exercising the otherwise confined corona body. Bedrooms turned into gyms, but many preferred to exercise outside in order to avoid cabin fever. As running was delimited to specific areas, walking alone or in family groups became so popular that several public parks and walking lanes in Copenhagen were turned into one-way paths. Walking also became a way to meet up and socialise, as the Danish government guidelines deemed the risk of infection to be lower outdoors. Thus, in order to avoid encountering others and getting stuck in “walking rush hours”, many people started walking in the early morning, so they could have the streets to themselves. Even the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, recounted in an interview in June that after two months of walking, she could not start her day if she was not out walking by 6 am.21 The diaries are also full of descriptions of the authors’ new walking habits: “If I do not take my daily walk, then I seriously worry I will go crazy” (Diary no. 7).

Figure 1
Figure 1

Signpost marking the one-way direction and the distance people should keep when walking in the park surrounding the Peblinge Lake in Copenhagen. (Photo: Tine Damsholt)

Public health also became an issue as the increased popularity of baking, snacking and eating comfort food resulted in weight gain for many people. The unruly everyday body of the lockdown simply grew over time, and this was exacerbated by people’s wine and beer consumption, which, instead of being confined to weekends as it usually was, became an everyday routine in many households. “At 4 pm every day, the home bar opens for business”, a middle-class woman declared.22 Another testified white wine and gin & tonics to be her indispensable daily supporters during lockdown.23 Drinking alcohol and eating more sweets and snacks was considered a part of the state of exception; you were allowed to do things that otherwise would not be permitted.

Combining the increased intake of calories with wearing stretchy, comfy clothes every day made growing waistlines less obvious. Staying at home and therefore not seeing colleagues or friends meant that it was not necessary to display one’s unruly body in public. Some people learned to incorporate new habits of participating in online exercise programs or moved their yoga and Pilates classes outdoors. Nevertheless, the weekly rhythms of bodily exercise were often difficult to maintain over time:

Wednesday is normally fitness day, but alas! It is corona times. I have tried to do some exercises here on the floor in the living room, but it is not the same. Not at all. A couple of half-hearted squats, crunches, and push-ups were the pitiful result. However, a little is better than nothing. (Diary no. 13)

Time marked the unruly bodies of isolation. Waistlines and the number on the scales were not the only things that increased; as the normal temporality of the body continued unaffected, hair grew unchecked out of its style, hair dye faded and roots started to show. Since the weather was good, many people were suntanned early in the year. Thus, the bodies that took part in the gradual reopening from 10 May and onwards mostly resembled those of people returning to work after a long summer vacation – more suntanned and often heavier than before.

However, corona bodies not only suffered from a too-relaxed diet and the absence of exercise. The official guidelines about increased hand washing and use of hand sanitiser in schools and day care resulted in increasing numbers of children with eczema or red, irritated hands. The new rhythms of cleansing were unfamiliar to the body and the repetitive washing was out of sync with the body’s own pace of regeneration. Overall, the lockdown benefitted all bodies that avoided the pandemic infection. However, it collided with the rhythms and routines of everyday bodies – they became out of sync.

Also, some felt that they became out of sync with their biological or biographical age through the micro-practices of everyday life. A journalist who just turned 24 realised that after eight weeks of isolation with her parents, she felt more like a 55-year-old, as she had begun to eat and speak like her parents, watch their preferred programmes on broadcast television, and comment on exactly the same sunset every evening:

Even time has stopped. Isolation is a dreamlike state outside of time, neither a total nightmare nor remarkably awesome. […] One might think time dragged on in the uproarious monotony of isolation. “Can you fill the time?” friends worry. But time is strange, because it runs along even if I, myself, have stopped inside it. I really don’t understand what became of April. In a flash and a press conference, my favourite month – with all its colds, love affairs and outdoor coffees – was reduced to a really gloomy and mistreated spring.24

The young journalist felt she was living the life of her parents’ generation, and that she was out of sync with her own. The focus on what the younger generations missed out on due to lockdown increased in the media as spring began. It was often called the stolen or mistreated spring, which is the title of a well-known Danish novel from 1940,25 which describes boys in a strict secondary school, tormented by sadistic teachers and missing out on springtime, with all its promise of girls and romance, due to exams. For many, the arrival of spring in gardens and nature, with daffodils and sprouting leaves, served as a contrast to “ordinary time”, which seemed to have stopped during the lockdown. The coming of spring was a reassurance that everything would be all right in the end.

When shops, restaurants, and cafés reopened in May, the normal pulse and rhythm of the city rapidly returned. One day, I stepped out of my home to take my usual afternoon walk and was startled by the sudden return of the previously familiar bustle to my neighbourhood, as the streets were suddenly full of people shopping and enjoying the sun. I had not been outside for two days, and I felt suddenly out of sync with the public mood. I was not alone; people in high-risk groups are currently (writing in June) growing increasingly nervous, as many people seem to be more relaxed about hand washing and sanitiser, and forget or even ignore the restrictions and recommendations to keep a safe distance from others. It is hard to know how to react when people you meet and have not seen for a long time extend their hand for a handshake or motion to give you a hug, when they should not. You either risk being perceived as unfriendly, overcautious or suspicious towards your fellow humans, or you have to compromise your own sentiments and pace of normalisation.26 Either way, you feel out of sync with the ongoing dismantling of bodily isolation and misattuned with a new, more relaxed public mood.

Always as Never Before

For many people, the corona crisis and the new everyday lives it invoked appeared to be a state of exception; a liminal zone outside of time, where the everyday world was turned upside down. Normal time seemed to have stopped, yet the spring gradually arrived and nature’s cyclic time continued. Babies continued to be born, and children grew as rapidly as ever, but they were unable to visit or hug their grandparents. Indeed, being able to give a hug to one’s family elders is a recurrent theme in the lists of things people are longing for and looking forward to doing again. The diaries are full of cancelled birthday parties, anniversaries, weddings and other private family celebrations, which were annulled or postponed. A girl who turned ten on 16 March missed out on her planned birthday party and had to make do with a video message from her teacher and a wave from her best friend at a distance. She was unmistakably disappointed: “You only have birthday once a year.” This one did not live up to her expectations.27 When the Danish Queen cancelled her 80th birthday party, and it was celebrated online instead by the nation along with her two sons and their families, it became a symbol of how a good patriot was supposed to behave. Family time and corona time definitely collided. As biographical time is usually punctuated by life events such as birth, anniversary and marriage, people became out of sync with their life trajectory and its milestones.

The temporal logics of the lockdown also collided with seasonal rhythms, traditions, and religious rituals. Churchgoers could not attend services until late May, and, even then, new rituals of communion were introduced to keep participants at a safe distance. In the Danish context, Easter is not only a pivotal part of the ecclesiastical cycle, it is also a period of traditional lunches with special dishes, beer, and schnapps:

Before dinner I had an online meeting with some friends. We discussed when we should have the digital replacement Easter lunch. However, we are going to have the real one in a couple of weeks. (Diary no. 5)

Figure 2
Figure 2

The poster from amusement park Tivoli where a park officer marks the prescribed distance of two metres and the text: “Take care of each other.” The sub-slogan translates into “Always as never before”. (Photo: Tine Damsholt)

Online Easter lunch, online Friday beers, staying-at-home parties, diamond wedding celebrations on Zoom, housewarmings on Facetime – the spring of 2020 was full of new inventions and ways of conducting social traditions at a distance, by way of more or less fulfilling replacements. A slogan on this year’s poster from Tivoli, the famous amusement park in Copenhagen, reads: “Always as never before”, articulating the paradox that traditions had to encapsulate this spring. In order to be recognisable and maintain their effect, traditions and rituals have to repeat a set pattern. At the same time, everything was different.

A predominant seasonal feature of Denmark in June is the tradition-laden post-graduation ride through town, where graduates from high schools sit or stand on the platforms of richly decorated, open trucks – drinking, shouting, singing, and wearing a special cap marking their new status as “students”.28 During the month of May this was a major topic of debate in the Danish media; should the students – who had a reduced exam schedule due to lockdown – be allowed to participate in this tradition. In the end, they were allowed to drive around and visit the parents of each student – as long as they complied with certain precautions and used a generous amount of hand sanitiser. They were also permitted to have private parties outside, as long as the parties stopped at midnight. As bars and parks also closed at midnight, this meant that the parties either condensed into very noisy and exaggerated celebrations compared to previous years, or the young people continued to party afterwards in private homes, even on weekdays. As a result, the number of noise complaints from neighbours increased dramatically. The graduation tradition took on a new, more disruptive form, which some onlookers felt the young participants deserved – they had, after all, had their normal springtime “stolen” due to the lockdown. However, others found this behaviour to be inappropriate and out of sync with the prescribed precautionary practices with which the rest of the population was still expected to comply.

Back to the Future – New Entanglements of Past and Future

During the lockdown and the gradual reopening of Denmark, “corona” has not only been used as the name of the virus but also as the name of a certain situation, a time of exception or an epoch. In the diaries, this period was articulated as, “these corona times”, “in times like these”, “these strange times”, or “as things are at present”. As historian Kristin Asdal has emphasised, texts and discourses produce issues, transform and modify reality, and may eventually normalise issues into non-issues (Asdal 2015). Articulating corona time as something out of the ordinary in newspapers, media and diaries produced corona as the dominating issue of spring 2020. However, when corona was articulated as a time of exception, it was simultaneously modified into a phase or an interlude, which implied it would end. A public poster from the municipality of Frederiksberg informing citizens of the necessity of keeping their distance and taking care of one other had the subtext: “Everything is going to be all right again.” It remains unsaid just when this “again” will materialise, and this slogan can be understood as an attempt to modify the pandemic into a crisis to be overcome.

At the time of writing this article in June 2020, people are referring to the lockdown period as well as the date when it was announced as “corona” – it has turned into an historic event, creating a before and an after. Thus, the pandemic has made history and invoked a new chronology, which is used as an anchor point in relation to which people date their activities and recent life events. In the student diaries, some students use a genre akin to a historical account: “This is written during Denmark’s lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, which, in its second week, is causing havoc all over Europe” (Diary no. 11). In several diaries, there are references to the date when the prime minister declared the lockdown, while in the public debate, there have been comparisons to the German occupation of Denmark during the Second World War, as people find nothing has happened in Denmark that so dramatically changed everyday life since then. Even though this sense of being part of an out-of-the-ordinary and historical event is not usually very prevalent in everyday life, the past and the future are constant parts of the temporal assemblage. As Löfgren describes:

The home is always crowded with half-finished projects, half-hearted attempts of reform, passing whims, and fancies. There are recipes saved that will never be tried out, new household gadgets collecting dust on the top shelf, exciting exotic ingredients never opened, boxes of puzzles with missing pieces. All such plans, half-finished projects, or nostalgic longings shuttle the home back and forth between the past and the future. Feelings also move in time; a past history may be suddenly evoked, transporting an old conflict or a happy memory right into the present, while worries colonize the future. (Löfgren 2014: 94)

Such entanglements of past memories and worries or promises for the future also permeated the lockdown situation.

Oatmeal for breakfast followed by my daily jog in the Catholic part of the West Cemetery. There are seldom many people, so it is a great place to run at present. There is also an Italian military cemetery. I am thinking of the stay I had in a language school in Sienna, Tuscany, and I miss the hilly landscape and the tall pine trees. If you stretch your imagination, then the evergreen trees resemble Tuscany. The closing down of borders and air routes amplify my longing to go abroad these days. (Diary no. 4)

In this quote, several pasts and places are evoked as well as hopes for future travels – “different times bleeding through one another” (cf. Barad 2017: 68). During lockdown, past, present and future became entangled in new forms of longing. The future held the promise of a return to a recent past identical with the time before lockdown. As the corona lockdown was perceived as a state of exception, it modified the actual present, the “here-and-now”, into a deviation from the present people had expected to live. Thus, the usual present in its “normal” or pre-corona form seemed only to be present in its absence. The present most people had expected to live during spring 2020 was enacted as a kind of absent presence (cf. Law 2002). Nevertheless, it was simultaneously enacted as a recent but now lost past and as the promise of a future to return to.

While the past has often been described as a foreign country (cf. Lowenthal 1985), the near future currently appears to be a more foreign country than usual, as it is invested with both the fears and hopes of returning to normal. In some diaries, the future is invoked as a dystopia of isolated individual bodies or as a utopia of more sociability, physical interaction and care.

We are discussing how the mandatory social distancing will affect our understanding of intimacy in the future. Will we get used to it? Will the pavements be widened in order to enable us to continue to pass each other at a distance? Or will our longing for touching skin overwhelm us to such an extent that we will cling to each other, refusing to let go – even when this is in the distant past? I hope the latter will be the case and say goodnight. (Diary no. 3)

Other young people feared that the elder generations will forget about the issues related to climate change due to corona:

It is 10 pm. I am lying in my bed. I think about the climate. Politicians are doing a lot very fast due to corona in order to take care of the elders. And they blame young people for not taking it seriously enough. Of course, we should take it seriously. Nevertheless, we are many young people who fear that the elders fail to understand that climate issues will also turn out to be ruinous, if we don’t act now.29

Ideas about the future permeate many accounts and reflections about what the long-term effects of corona pandemic will be; either in the form of a happier, more climate-aware, and social society (including hugging, singing together, and appreciating all of the small treasures of everyday life), or a dystopia of isolated old and frail people, plastic screens separating us, neglected climate issues, and interaction through face masks involving generous quantities of hand sanitiser. The recent past has acquired a new status. In spite of their apparent triviality, it turns out that everyday “pre-corona” routines such as shaking hands, giving a hug, or sharing a meal have become objects of nostalgia and longing. For some, purchasing stuff for the near future served as a way of materialising the hope that the reopening heralded a return to the recent past. This included buying new clothes for future parties or making new garments: “I have knitted a summer top, so I have something to look forward to once this is over.”30 Under the heading “100 things to look forward to”,31 a newspaper article listed: 1) Touching doorknobs; 2) Putting the sticker back on your webcam; 3) Getting off work; 9) Private parties, dancing cheek to cheek, snacking from a shared bowl of peanuts; 14) Hands without hand sanitiser – to quote just a few of the numerous things that nobody would have imagined they would ever miss. What used to be a mundane present until recently has suddenly become a distant past. People long for “the usual present”, or long for a future, which they hope will be just like the usual present, which is now a lost past.

A few people have at last made themselves the main character in their own lives or changed their lifestyle. But I think a lot of people, including myself, have just endured and waited for things to ease enough to get back to our normal behaviour. Just like we did after the previous oil crisis, aids, and the financial crisis, etc. We always long to become better, but once the danger is past, our shoulders fall back into place, and we become who we are. It is all going to return to what it used to be again.32

The workings of the lockdown in everyday life can be compared to the analytical strategy of a “history of the present”. This strategy destabilises the present by opening our understanding of how contemporary practices have been and could have been different, by historicising those aspects of our lives that appear to be without history, thus leaving the present open to reshaping (cf. Rose 2007). In a similar way, the lockdown has made visible all the things we took for granted in our daily lives, which now turn out to be receptive to change, also for the better. However, not everyone wants to change or reshape the future – some just want to get back to the way things were until recently: our usual, mundane everyday life. In that sense, the lockdown has affected a stabilisation and confirmation of contemporary life as we knew it. Thus, the lockdown has also had the reverse effect of a history of the present. To some extent, it has enforced a “presentism” – privileging the immediate and fabricating the past and future it requires (cf. Hartog 2015; Bangstad 2019).


It is not yet possible to say whether and how the lockdown will transform everyday lives in the long run. During several months of 2020, most of us had to calibrate and synchronise with new rhythms and rules in the temporal, material, social, and affective assemblages of everyday life. What started out as a state of exception has gradually become “normalised” into new daily routines and rhythms – when to get up, get dressed, start home-schooling, sing together at a distance, take long walks etc. – and materialised in new ways of staging the home; turning the dinner table or bedroom into zones for work and school. The lockdown made it apparent how the standardised time of modernity is accompanied by a multiplicity of rhythms, repetitions, pasts, and presents in everyday life. These emerge from and are practiced through working-life, leisure activities, housework, our unruly, growing bodies, family life, rituals, celebrations, public and private moods, and hopes and fears for the future. All of the usual micro-practices that shape and sequence time into shared, tacit and bodily choreographies became visible and were disturbed and debated during lockdown.

This liminal zone, outside of time, where the everyday world was turned upside down, revealed that it is not only the standardised measuring of time that makes up the logic of modern time. Rather, it turns out that the contrast between different activities and the spatial and material stuff they involve is essential to the scaffolding of our everyday life. Without the rhythms, breaks, and punctuation of shifting between different spaces, outfits, stages, or activities, everything seems to conflate into a temporal mash of sameness.

The new excess of time at home during isolation was an ambiguous affective phenomenon, full of tediousness and anxiety as well as secret moments of joy and pleasure. The paradoxes between the fear and empathy engendered by the global drama of the pandemic on the one hand and the pure joy of being safe at home with your loved ones on the other called for attunement. Meanwhile, bodily rhythms risked getting out of sync with public moods of how and when to practice corona restrictions and when to ease up.

During lockdown, the past, present, and future became entangled in new forms of longing. The future held the promise of a return to a recent past identical to everyday life prior to lockdown. In spite of their apparent triviality, mundane routines like shaking hands or giving a hug became objects of nostalgia and longing. Thus, the lockdown affected a stabilisation and confirmation of contemporary life as we knew it. Yet, like a history of the present, the lockdown serves in this article as an analytical prism, which destabilises and renders visible the rhythms, temporal scaffoldings, the attempts to synchronise, the hopes and fears for the future, and the longing for a recent past, which are otherwise taken for granted in everyday life. However, it is still too early to say whether the temporalities permeating everyday life will be reshaped in the long run, once societies reopen for good. Time will tell.


  1. Published in the daily newspaper Politiken 25 March under the heading “A day”. All quotes in this article have been translated from Danish by the author. [^]
  2. Acknowledgements: I am indebted to the students following the course Ethnological Strategies for Analysis in spring 2020, who all contributed to this article by writing diaries on 25 March and exploring them analytically: Aleksander Oliver Moe Schiønnemann, Anne Kjær Tholstrup, Anne Sophie Rasmussen Vermehren, Bendegúz Barna, Cecilie Nöel Viet Hilgart, Christian Gybel Jensen, Ditte Maria Juel Jensen, Dorthe Langkilde, Jacob Hellerung Holm, Jeppe Holm Rasmussen, Josephine Bøgen Theilgaard, Katja Toft Welner, Linnea Eisemann de Almeida, Lærke Vang Tams, Mads Jefsen Neupart, Maja Lindholm Kvamm, Maja Lund Hvidtfeldt Mortensen, Mia Eggert Jørgensen, Mette Kirstine Voigt Tinning, Oline Overholdt, Peter Mørck Nielsen, Rasmus Mathiasen, Sidsel Maja Heidemann, and Tobias Bollerup Henriksen. All are master students in European ethnology at the University of Copenhagen. I also want to thank the two anonymous peer reviewers for relevant comments. [^]
  3. In Denmark the term “corona” has as an emic term in everyday life not only been used as the name of the virus but just as much as the name of a certain situation, a time of exception or an epoch. This Danish or Scandinavian way of using the term corona has been retained throughout the article. [^]
  4. Published each day in the newspaper Politiken under the heading “A day” in the period from 12 March to 2 April 2020. [^]
  5. Before analysis all diaries were made anonymous. They were each given a number instead (from 1 to 25). This number will be used as reference when quoting them in this publication. Gender and age of the author have not been taken systematically into consideration during analysis and will not be displayed in the article, in order to maintain anonymity. [^]
  6. Female producer, a 53-year-old, living in a Copenhagen suburb. Her husband was hospitalized with critical Covid-19 until 1 April. Published in Politiken under the heading “A day”, 2 April 2020. [^]
  7. E.g. Nicola Kragh Riis: Helle for mig, ALT Interiør, July 2020. [^]
  8. Bo Gren Jensen: Fra et land i karantæne. In the weekly newspaper Weekendavisen no. 13, 27 March 2020. [^]
  9. Linea Maja Ernst: 3000 gækkebreve senere. Weekendavisen no. 14, 3 April 2020. [^]
  10. Samvirke, May 2020. [^]
  11. Cf. statement by female producer, a 53-year-old, living in a Copenhagen suburb. Her husband was hospitalized with critical Covid-19 until 1 April. Published in Politiken under the heading “A day”, 2 April 2020. [^]
  12. Autoethnography 14 March 2020. [^]
  13. E.g. Karen Greve: Min corona-dagbog. Magasinet Liv, July 2020. [^]
  14. Tina Nikolaisen: Tæt sammen. ALT no. 21, May 2020. [^]
  15. Female, a 34-year-old teacher living in the provincial town Holbæk, in Politiken under the heading “A day”, 28 March 2020. [^]
  16. A 34-year-old man from Greece working in Denmark, in Politiken under the heading “Digital Stories”, 26 March 2020. [^]
  17. Daisy Løvendahl: Kærlighedskrise efter karantænen. ALT no. 27, July 2020. [^]
  18. Female, a 57-year-old nursery teacher living in Copenhagen. [^]
  19. Informal conversations with staff working in Copenhagen and in the provincial town Holbæk. [^]
  20. By 1 July 2020, 606 Danish citizens had died due to corona out of a population of 5.8 million. [^]
  21. Interview in the magazine ALT no. 26, June 2020. [^]
  22. Magasinet Liv, July 2020. [^]
  23. Karen Greve: Min corona-dagbog. Magasinet Liv, July 2020. [^]
  24. Laura Hattens: Kongedømmet Corona. Weekendavisen no. 21, 20 May 2020. [^]
  25. Hans Scherfig: Det forsømte forår. Gyldendal (1940). [^]
  26. Autoethnography 15 June 2020. [^]
  27. A 10-year-old girl living in a Copenhagen suburb, in Politiken under the heading “A day”, 17 March 2020. [^]
  28. Young people graduating from high school or gymnasium in Denmark are called “students”. However, this graduation does not necessarily give access to a university education. [^]
  29. A 14-year-old girl, living in a small town north of Copenhagen, in Politiken under the heading “A day”, 23 March 2020. [^]
  30. A 25-year-old female student, in Politiken under the heading “Digital Stories”, 26 March 2020. [^]
  31. In Politiken 7 April 2020. [^]
  32. Stephanie Caruana in ALT no. 27, July 2020. [^]


Ahmed, Sara 2014: Not in the Mood. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, Politics 82: 13–28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3898/NeWF.82.01.2014.

Asdal, Kristin 2015: What is the Issue? The Transformative Capacity of Documents. Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory 16(1): 74–90. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1600910X.2015.1022194.

Bangstad, Torgeir Rinke 2019: Beyond Presentism: Heritage and the Temporality of Things. Ethnologia Europaea 49(2): 115–132. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16995/ee.1443.

Barad, Karen 2017: Troubling Time/s and Ecologies of Nothingness: Re-turning, Re-membering, and Facing the Incalculable. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, Politics 92: 56–86. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3898/NEWF:92.05.2017.

Damsholt, Tine 2019: Hverdag i dagbøger – almindelighed, affekter, analyse, måltider og andre tidsligheder. Culture & History: Student Research Papers 4: 5–22.

Damsholt, Tine & Astrid Jespersen 2014: Innovation, Resistance or Tinkering: Rearticulating Everyday Life in an Ethnological Perspective. Ethnologia Europaea 44(2): 17–30. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16995/ee.1124.

Ehn, Billy & Orvar Löfgren 2010: The Secret World of Doing Nothing. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Ehn, Billy, Orvar Löfgren & Richard Wilk 2016: Exploring Everyday Life: Strategies for Ethnography and Cultural Analysis. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Eriksen, Anne 1994: Tidsoppfatning i livshistoriske fortellinger: Eller: når livet og tiden berører hverandre. In: Anders Gustavsson (ed.), Tiden och historien i 1990-talets kulturforskning. Etnolore 15: Skrifter från Etnologiska institutionen. Uppsala: Uppsala University.

Eriksen, Anne 2014: From Antiquities to Heritage: Transformation of Cultural Memory. (Time and the World: Interdisciplinary Studies in Cultural Transformation vol. 1, Helge Jordheim, ed.). Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Frykman, Jonas & Orvar Löfgren 1979: Den kultiverade människan. Lund: Liber läromedel.

Glennie, Paul & Nigel Thrift 2009: Shaping the Day: A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales 1300–1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hanson, Jarice 2007: 24/7: How Cell Phones and the Internet Change the Way we Live, Work, and Play. Westport: Praeger Publishers.

Hareven, Tamara K. 1982: Family Time and Industrial Time: The Relationship between Family and Work in a New England Industrial Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hartog, Francois 2015: Regimes of Historicity: Presentism and Experiences of Time. New York: Columbia University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7312/hart16376.

Højrup, Ole 1966: Landbokvinden: Rok og kærne – grovbrød og vadmel. Copenhagen: Nationalmuseet.

Højrup, Thomas 1983: Det glemte folk: Livsformer og centraldirigering. Hørsholm: Statens Byggeforskningsinstitut.

Hylland Eriksen, Thomas 2001: Øyeblikkets tyranny: Rask og langsom tid i informationssamfundet. Oslo: Ashehoug.

Jordheim, Helge 2014: Introduction: Multiple Times and the Work of Synchronization. History and Theory 53 (December): 498–518. Wesleyan University. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/hith.10728.

Koselleck, Reinhardt 1979: Vergangene Zukunft: Zur Semantik geschichtlicher Zeiten. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag.

Law, John 2002: On Hidden Heterogeneities: Complexity, Formalism and Aircraft Design. Complexities: Social Studies of Knowledge Practices. Durham & London: Duke University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822383550-005.

Löfgren, Orvar 1993: The Great Christmas Quarrel and other Swedish Traditions. In: Daniel Miller (ed.), Unwrapping Christmas. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 217–234.

Löfgren, Orvar 2014: The Black Box of Everyday Life: Entanglements of Stuff, Affects and Activities. Cultural Analysis 13: 77–98.

Löfgren, Orvar 2016: Containing the Past, the Present and the Future: Packing a Suitcase, Narodna Umjetnost: Croatian Journal of Ethnology and Folklore Research. Special Issue 53(1): 59–74. Zagreb. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15176/vol53no103.

Lowenthal, David 1985: The Past is a Foreign Country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Otto, Lene & Lykke L. Pedersen 1998: Collecting Oneself: Life Stories and Objects of Memory. Ethnologia Scandinavica 28: 77–92.

Rose, Nicolas 2007: The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400827503.

Scheer, Monique 2019: Tense Holidays: Approaching Christmas through Conflict. In: Pamela E. Klassen & Monique Scheer (eds.), The Public Work of Christmas – Difference and Belonging in Multicultural Societies. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvhrd19h.6.

Thompson, Charis 2005: Making Parents: The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Thompson, E.P. 1967: Time, Work-discipline and Industrial Capitalism. Past and Present 38(1): 56–97. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/past/38.1.56.

Wajcman, Judy 2014: Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226196503.001.0001.

Wajcman, Judy & Nigel Dodd (eds.) 2017: The Sociology of Speed: Digital, Organizational, and Social Temporalities. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198782858.001.0001.

Wilk, Richard 2011: Reflections on Orderly and Disorderly Ethnography. Ethnologia Europaea: Journal of European Ethnology. Special Issue: Irregular Ethnographies 41(1): 15–26. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16995/ee.1074.

Zerubavel, Eviatar 1981: Hidden Rhythms: Schedules and Calendars in Social Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Tine Damsholt is professor of European ethnology at the University of Copenhagen. Her research field includes everyday life and political culture, especially patriotic and national discourses and ritual practices in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Denmark and in contemporary Europe. Cultural history, subjectivity, materiality, temporality, emotions, body and gender are recurrent themes in her research and publications.