Enacting care amid power relations: The role of ‘veiled care’ in organisational life

Clare Mumford, David Holman, Leo Mccann, Maurice Nagington, Laurie Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traditional understandings of care-giving assume care practices are clear to others and unambiguously altruistic, reflective of the selfless and humane bearing of care professionals. However, a range of organisational research has noted the complex and often contradictory ways in which enactments of care are interwoven into organisational relations of power and control. Through a narrative analysis of interview data, our paper focuses upon practices of inaction and concealment as ‘veiled’ care set within the power-laden complexities and contested meaning-making of organisational life. Our notion of veiled care extends debates about care as a social practice in everyday work relations in two ways. Firstly, it provides a greater focus on the less discernible aspects of care-giving which are significant but possibly overlooked in shaping subjectivities and meanings of care in work relations. Secondly, it develops the discussion of the situated ambiguities and tensions in enacting care that involves overcoming care-recipient resistance and an arguably less heroic but nonetheless important objective of non-maleficence, to avoid, minimise or repair damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-595
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2020


  • Care
  • concealment
  • gentleness
  • inaction
  • power
  • veiled care


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