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The temporal uses of moral things: Manifesting, anchoring and conserving caring relations within the sensorium

Balmer, Andrew, Meckin, Robert and Abbott, Owen ORCID: 2021. The temporal uses of moral things: Manifesting, anchoring and conserving caring relations within the sensorium. Sociology 55 (3) , pp. 619-640. 10.1177/0038038520959263

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In this article we argue that menthol-containing products, like chewing gums, vapour rubs and mouthwashes, are used as moral things within everyday practices. They take on moral functions because of how their material qualities contribute to sensory experiences. Specifically, we focus on scenarios in which menthol products become associated with the moral work of care and highlight the temporal dimension of what people do with moral things. We review the literature on morality as a practical, everyday accomplishment and stress the embodied nature of caring practices to outline how care is bound up with sensory experience. We draw on rich qualitative data generated through creative methods, including film, photography and sketching, as part of object-elicitation interviews, focus groups, home tours and ‘pop-up stalls’. We develop three concepts regarding the function of moral things: manifesting, anchoring and conserving moral relations to describe how time, morality and the sensory are entwined.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1469-8684
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 February 2022
Last Modified: 07 May 2023 03:12

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