Inside a hall of mirrors: residential care and the shifting constructions of childhood in mid-twentieth-century Britain

Fink, Janet (2008). Inside a hall of mirrors: residential care and the shifting constructions of childhood in mid-twentieth-century Britain. Paedagogica Historica, 44(3) pp. 287–307.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00309230801967093

Abstract

Drawing on imagery from promotional literature produced between 1930 and 1960 by the National Children’s Home, a British child welfare charity, this paper explores constructions of childhood and child development in the context of residential care for children. Analysis of this imagery highlights the excess of meanings that are embedded in photographs and captions and, in turn, their value for identifying how contested ideas, norms and assumptions are negotiated. The paper points to the significance of time and space for meanings of childhood and considers how ideals of home and family are woven through those meanings in different ways and with different emphases in this period.

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