Masking in the Pandemic: Materiality, Interaction, and Moral Practice

Owen Abbott, Vanessa May, Sophie Woodward, Robert Meckin, Leah Gilman

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This book assumes an “everyday life” perspective towards masking in public spaces in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. Facemasks are perhaps one of the most tangible ways in which the changes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic were made visible. In the space of a few months in 2020, masking in the UK went from being almost non-existent in public to becoming widespread, both before and after the UK government mandated masking in most enclosed public spaces in July 2020. In this context, the speed and scale of the introduction of masking in public settings offers sociologists a rare chance to document the (contested) emergence of a new social practice. The authors argue that the nature of masking during the pandemic means that masking practices need to be understood through the entwinement of material, interactional, and moral dimensions. By developing a relational perspective to explore the relationship between the materiality and moral significance of masking, and how this translated into the development of masking practices in public spaces, the authors argue further that the specific context of masking during the pandemic provides sociologists with a unique lens to think through the nature of material, interactional, and moral practices in general.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages99
ISBN (Electronic)9783031457814
ISBN (Print)9783031457807
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2023

Publication series

NameConsumption and Public Life
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2947-8227
ISSN (Electronic)2947-8235


  • Covid-19
  • mask wearing
  • public policy
  • habit forming
  • relationality
  • facet Methodology


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