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An anatomy of carewashing: corporate branding and the commodification of care during Covid-19

Chatzidakis, A. and Littler, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-8496-6192 (2021). An anatomy of carewashing: corporate branding and the commodification of care during Covid-19. International Journal of Cultural Studies,


This article defines ‘carewashing’ as commercial branding strategies which commodify care and attempt to increase corporate profit, and provides the first theorisation and historicization of the term. The first section of the article situates ‘carewashing’ in relation to longer-term strategies of corporate ‘social responsibility’ and cause-related marketing. The second shows how established corporate practices are being reinvented in an era of Covid-19 and amidst profound neoliberal instability. The third section focuses on specific examples of contemporary carewashing, showing their variation and pinpointing three tendencies: ‘opportunistic branding’; ‘community resourcing’; and ‘reputational steamrolling’. The concluding section argues that carewashing also needs to be understood as a political act which is involved in wider social struggles. It argues that in the Gramscian sense carewashing is part of a ‘passive revolution’ in that it is attempting to claim and demarcate the realm of care for corporate capitalism and against social democracy.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright, the authors, 2021. Re-use is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses.
Publisher Keywords: branding, care, carewashing, commodification, Covid-19, corporation, pandemic, marketing
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR355 Virology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
Date available in CRO: 24 Nov 2021 11:51
Date deposited: 24 November 2021
Date of acceptance: 19 November 2021
Text - Accepted Version
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