The Shelter photographs: a new construction of the homeless child

Building R19, Room 107, School of Education
Research, Social Sciences, Students
Monday 30th January 2012 (17:00-18:30)
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Sarah McCook, Departmental Secretary
Tel: 0121 414 4844

Interdisciplinary Research in Histories of Education and Childhood (DOMUS) Seminar Series 2011-2012

Speaker: Ali Hall, University of Birmingham

In this paper I will analyse photographs of children in ‘slum’ housing commissioned between 1968 and 1972 by the housing charity Shelter in relation to the contemporary construction of the child. These photographs, many by Nick Hedges, were intended to illustrate Shelter’s consciousness- and fund-raising campaigns and were publically displayed as posters and in the national media. In terms of contemporary social policy, I am interested in the way that the concept of homelessness contributed to a discourse of dysfunctional childhood and how a compromised domestic space was thought to affect childhood experience. I will explore key issues raised in government reports and legislation between 1960 and 1972 and how these focused on the construction of the child framed by a poor home environment. I will also consider the extent to which the Shelter photographs reflect, challenge or enlarge the discourses and debates generated by these reports and Acts. Through an examination of Hedges’s photographs for Shelter I intend to discuss the often overlooked complexities of the ‘deprived child’ and the centrality of ‘home’ (or lack of one) to the construction of the child in the 1960s.