Materialities of mundane care and the art of holding one’s own

Brownlie, Julie and Spandler, Helen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0970-5141 (2018) Materialities of mundane care and the art of holding one’s own. Sociology Of Health and Illness, 40 (2). pp. 256-269. ISSN 0141-9889

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The focus of this special issue is on how everyday or 'mundane' materialities actively mediate health and care practices. This paper extends this concern with the mundane to care itself and explores how specific materialities, such as shared spaces and everyday objects, not only mediate but enable mundane care to happen. Our focus is on mundane help in the context of ill-health, between people who are not immediate family, such as neighbours, acquaintances and others we interact with in our daily lives. Drawing on recent empirical studies of low level support in two different parts of the UK, we show how materialities of care can mediate the affective risks associated with receiving such help. Specifically, we investigate how materialities help people to balance the expression of vulnerability with a need to retain their dignity, a practice Arthur W. Frank (2010) refers to as 'holding one's own'. In doing so, we argue that materialities are not just the conduits for care – what care passes through- or things that mediate care. We suggest instead that materialities are part of how relationships of mundane care are constituted and maintained.

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