Dressing disrupted: negotiating care through the materiality of dress in the context of dementia

Christina Buse, Julia Twigg

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This paper explores how the materiality of dress mediates and shapes practices of care in the context of dementia. Earlier research called for an approach to conceptualising care that recognised the role played by everyday artefacts. We extend this to a consideration of dress and dressing the body in relation to people with dementia that involves the direct manipulation of material objects, as well as the materiality of bodies. The paper draws on an ESRC funded study Dementia and Dress, which examined experiences of dress for people with dementia, families and care-workers using ethnographic and qualitative methods. Our analysis explores the process of dressing the body, the physicality of guiding and manipulating bodies into clothing, dealing with fabrics and bodies which ‘act back’ and are resistant to the process of dressing. We consider how the materiality of clothing can constrain or enable practices of care, exploring tensions between garments that support ease of dressing and those that sustain identity. Examining negotiations around dress also reveals tensions between competing ‘logics’ of care (Mol 2008).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-352
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2018

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©2018 The Authors.

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