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

Julie Brownlie*, Helen Spandler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The focus of this special issue is on how everyday or mundane materialities actively mediate health and care practices. This article extends this concern with the mundane to care itself and explores how specific materialities, such as shared spaces and everyday objects, not only mediate mundane care but enable it 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 with whom we interact in our daily lives. Drawing on recent empirical studies of low-level support in two different parts of the UK, we show how the 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 their vulnerability with a need to retain their dignity, a practice referred 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-269
Number of pages14
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number2
Early online date21 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • materialities
  • new materialism
  • everyday help
  • informal support
  • ill health
  • shared spaces and objectds


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