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

Chatzidakis, Andreas and Littler, Jo. 2022. An anatomy of carewashing: corporate branding and the commodification of care during Covid-19. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 25(2-3), pp. 268-286. ISSN 1367-8779 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article defines ‘carewashing’ as commercial branding strategies which commodify care and attempt to increase corporate profit, and provides the first theorisation and historicisation 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.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


branding, care, carewashing, commodification, corporation, Covid-19, pandemic, marketing

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


16 February 2022Published Online
July 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

25 Apr 2024 11:43

Last Modified:

25 Apr 2024 11:43

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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