Hygienic citizenship: Shifting cultures of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation


2 Minute read

The key research questions in this project are:

  • Identify current and emerging patterns in practices of cleanliness, hygiene, sanitation in Beijing and Tianjin.
  • Explore the interconnectivities between changing hygienic practices and potential socio-environmental impacts across a range of sectors (water, energy, sanitation, waste, health).
  • Explore conceptualisations of ‘hygienic citizenship’ within social care, public health, urban development and environmental policy.

The details

Critical examination of practices of cleanliness, hygiene, and sanitation is vital for advancing human and environmental health. This project aims to understand how these practices (like care for self, others, clothes, things, homes) constantly shift in response to global changes like pandemics, resource availability (including water/energy supplies), material and technological change (for example digital innovations, housing, consumer products), urbanity, and socio-cultural dynamics (including cultural/religious beliefs, intergenerational practices, gender, professional expectations).

By unveiling dynamics that shape these practices in the Chinese cities of Beijing and Tianjin, the research will develop new insights into changing cultures and socio-environmental change and inform health, social care and environmental projects and policy.

This project will explore where, how and why the complex socio-material dynamics underpinning practices of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation have changed across Beijing and Tianjin.

The project starts from the understanding that underpinning policy directives around environmental sustainability and population health are a range of hard-to-know, private, intimate, social and affective practices; shaped by a variety of material and infrastructural conditions and diverse cultural understandings of health and hygiene.

It is the enactment of these mundane practices – people caring for homes, clothes, and the bodies and detritus of themselves and others – that consumes resources (water, energy, materials), creates wastes, and contributes to population level health and environmental outcomes.

The graduate researcher on this project is: Dongyang Mi

Supervision team

University of Manchester participants: Dr Alison Browne, Dr Saska Petrova, Dr Deljana Iossifova

University of Melbourne participants: Dr Sarah Rogers, Professor Mark Wang

First published on 2 February 2022.

Share this article