94.3 Social justice, visual activism: Young people creating ‘home' across public and domestic spaces

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 11:09 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
E-J MILNE , School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland
Sarah WILSON , School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
Visual activism and social justice research with young people often focuses (exclusively) on their experience and activities in ‘public’ rather than ‘private’ spaces, exploring both (barriers to) their involvement in social activism and the often negative response of state authorities to this or to behaviours characterised as anti-social (Milne 2009). In research into such issues, domestic spaces are often constructed, at least tacitly, as warm and tranquil havens from the noise and trouble outside (Adams et al. 2007).  Such an approach draws on/ maintains somewhat traditional notions of the public/ private distinction in which the family is seen as somehow protected, isolated from changes in social structure (Smart 1997). Further it constructs the domestic experience of young people as less central to concerns of social justice than their involvement in the ‘public’ sphere. Sociology of childhood research has examined key spatial themes of children’s relative power, autonomy and agency inside and outside the home, and the interrelationships between the two (Holloway and Valentine 2000, Skelton 2000, Matthews et al. 2000). It has also questioned a policy approach (at least in many minority world countries) that focuses more attention on children’s democratic rather than their social and welfare rights (Wells 2010).   This paper will discuss these issues through the lens of an on-going research project that employs complementary visual and audial methods. The research explores visual constructions of feeling ‘at home’, belonging (however ambivalently) or non-belonging across multiple spaces with young people in Scotland who are unable, for various reasons, to live with their biological parents. The paper will discuss how visual research in domestic spaces can point to concerns of justice, how domestic practices may affect involvement in the public sphere and the way ‘domestic’ or ‘family’ practice may not be located in one place or exclusively in domestic spaces.