First available online at: Wiley Online
The involvement of women in the organization and functioning of voluntary self-help groups and their activity in the forums of these groups on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic is surprisingly high. In Poland, the share of women involved in the “visible hand” groups was 80 percent. This article is based on the theoretical considerations of solidarity and mutual aid and points to the nexus of women and urban commons. It also presents the results of empirical research, based on mixed methods, devoted to the motivations of members to join affinity groups of this kind in the era of the pandemic as well as their expectations and the perceived benefits and dangers/threats. The obtained results contradict the stereotypical assumption that the high level of participation of women in self-help groups is related to the reproductive work they perform and the most important motivation for them is community building. There is also a finding related to women’s agency, namely that all contemporary social movements mobilize a greater percentage of women. The members of the affinity groups surveyed see numerous benefits from their actions, both for others and for themselves (especially in psychological and social dimensions), and the most frequently indicated danger is dishonesty. The results of this research are an important contribution to both the theories of urban commons and informal organization of care. At the same time, the presented analysis of groups and their emotions, needs and calls for action may serve as an inspiration for both international comparative research and the very communities that are stuck up in crises (both current and those yet to come).