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Consuming Crisis

Consuming Crisis
Commodifying Care and COVID-19

January 2023 | 160 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Consuming Crisis is a crucial account of how consumer culture capitalized on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Sobande explores how brands claim to care while they encourage people to ‘keep calm and consume’. This critical analysis of the power and politics of marketing examines an eclectic mix of campaigns, content, and experiences. Such work outlines the societal significance of fast-fashion adverts, banana bread’s pandemic ‘moment’, university social media strategies, and how digital technology mediates memories and work. Based on the belief that brands cannot be activists, Sobande creatively considers how brands construct care, camaraderie, culture, and so-called ‘normal’ life during times of crisis.

Francesca Sobande is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Media Studies at Cardiff University

Chapter 1: Whose ‘New Normal’?
Chapter 2: Beyond the Pretense of ‘Brand Activism’
Chapter 3: Distraction, Dreaming, and Angst
Chapter 4: The Future, In Bloom

Experimental, rigorous and an exceptional commentary on the multitude of inequities COVID-19 presented for the most marginalised. 

 This book is a moving example of Black feminist scholarship’s capacity to demonstrate how employing neutralising tactics during crisis is a political choice by those in power. Sobande's writing is the near perfect example of interdisciplinary Black scholarship which takes to task politics, sociology and cultural studies in ways that grapples with interpersonal and structural inequities during crisis 

 Sobande presents a unique way of capturing a multitude of the structural and interpersonal challenges which COVID-19 intensified for many, whilst still writing in a way which feels incredibly personal to the reader. 

Chantelle Lewis
University of Oxford

Consuming Crisis unpacks the jargon of the pandemic; and shows how notions of care colour all aspects of our lives. Written with evocative prose that treats concepts like "self-care" with intellectual curiosity rather than scorn, Sobande offers not just a searing synthesis of the last two years, but an alternative guide to help us respond to the crises to come.

Lanre Bakare
The Guardian

Francesca Sobande writes about the relationship between comfort, consumer culture and capitalism from a perspective that is both profoundly sharp and insightful, using critical analysis and personal provocations to deftly underline inequalities that have existed long before the pandemic. Consuming Crisis is an important contribution to the studies of care, activism and COVID-19.

Arusa Qureshi
Writer and Editor

Francesca Sobande is one of the most exciting and creative feminist writers, complicating the cares which she labours over, and holds as urgent and embodied. This book is a rush of examples, cases, auto-biographies, illustrations, productively defying the conventions of ‘normal’. Yet questions and caveats extend a generosity to the reader, inviting us in. We can expect great things from Sobande as she continues to enliven feminist scholarship, hopes and dreams even in crisis times.  

Yvette Taylor
University of Strathclyde

This book offers a healing reflection on how Covid-19 has exasperated long-standing inequalities. Francesca Sobande takes us on a passionate analysis of the exploitation of care, normal life and activism in marketing content from the peak of the pandemic, and yet she leaves us with hope. Written with wit and spirit, this is a must-read which acknowledges the shortcomings of consumerist answers to crisis, while making room for solidarity in consumer culture.

Dr Daniela Pirani
University of Liverpool

In this timely and engaging book, Dr Francesca Sobande provides a compelling account of the commercialisation of care in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. With attention given to the impact of the virus on intersectional identities, such as race (and white supremacist capitalism), disability justice (and ableism), class (and working-class oppression), Sobande makes visible the rife contradictions that underpin brand activity during the pandemic.

Central to Sobande’s work is a critique of contemporary neoliberal capitalism as well as brand activism (noted by Sobande as an ‘oxymoron’), which was present long before the arrival of the pandemic but heightened during this period of (inter)national crisis and trauma. To achieve these ends, she draws on her own personal reflections as well as, popular cultural texts, advertising campaigns, and government initiatives; demonstrating the politics that underpin them all.

This work is a must-read for those interested in the racialised capitalism at play during (and beyond) the COVID-19 crisis, as well as for those committed to making a kinder, more compassionate, and more comfortable world for all.

Dr Victoria Cann
University of East Anglia

Dr. Sobande’s work unveils the feedback loops that brands and the corporations behind them exist within, arguing that brands can’t be activists or additive to culture, just because they say so. Sobande’s analysis showcases that during COVID-19 many corporate brand decision makers where far removed from the lived realities of their various consumers and highlighting practical examples of the negative impact of that disassociation on communications. Dr Sobande asks important questions about who is producing and guiding brand communications during - and outside - times of crisis, shining a light on the impact of the industries lack of representation.

John Foley
Marketing & Media Consultant

Sobande flawlessly links influencer culture, woke washing such as Boohoo feminism, (exacerbated by the pandemic) with the crises of late-stage capitalism, building on radical Black feminist thinkers. In this era defined by media and culture wars, Sobande asks us to focus on the bigger structural picture – late capitalist politics of care(lessness) and consumerism. Read! 

Kim-Marie Spence
Queens University Belfast

Trenchant and moving. Through a blend of social critique and self-reflection, Sobande offers a deeply intersectional analysis about the commodification of care during COVID-19. From corporate ads to baking on social media, Consuming Crisis archives this moment while reimagining care (and reclaiming comfort) for the future. This book offers critical hope.

Naya Jones
University of California Santa Cruz

This important, incisive text generously invites readers to re-think the socio-political contours of care and comfort. Crafting an argument from nuanced analysis of advertisements interwoven with reflexive writing, Sobande expertly demonstrates how racial/racist capitalism shapes the production of caring affect in brands' marketing.

Dr Maddie Breeze
Queen Margaret University

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