Mrs Hinch, the rise of the cleanfluencer and the neoliberal refashioning of housework: Scouring away the crisis?

Emma Casey, Jo Littler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article extends sociological and feminist accounts of housework by examining the social significance of the rise of the ‘cleanfluencer’: online influencers who supply household cleaning and organization tips and modes of lifestyle aspiration via social media. We focus on ‘Mrs Hinch’; aka Sophie Hinchliffe from Essex, the ‘homegrown’ Instagram star with 4.1 million followers who shares daily images and stories of cleaning and family life, and has a series of bestselling books, regular daytime TV appearances and supermarket tie-ins. We argue that, within neoliberal culture, housework is now often refashioned as a form of therapy for women’s stressful lives: stresses that neoliberalism and patriarchy have both generated and compounded. The argument is developed through three sections. First, we locate Mrs Hinch in relation to longer classed, gendered and racialized histories of domestic labour and the figure of the ‘housewife’, and the re-writing of domestic narratives to find new ways of ensuring women’s willingness to participate in unpaid domestic labour. Second, we analyse the contradictions of cleanfluencing as a form of ‘digital identity labour’ representing offline housework, which in this case is precarious and classed. Finally, drawing these themes together, we show how ‘Hinching’ recasts housework as part of a neoliberal therapeutic promise to ‘clean away’ the instabilities, anxieties and threats of contemporary culture.
Original languageEnglish
Article number003802612110595
Pages (from-to)489-505
Number of pages17
JournalSociological Review
Volume70
Issue number3
Early online date19 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

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