More than just a bracelet : the use of material symbolism to communicate love

Emond, Ruth (2016) More than just a bracelet : the use of material symbolism to communicate love. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 15 (3). ISSN 1478-1840

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There is growing recognition of the place of love in residential care for children (Smith, 2009). This paper is a critical analysis of a range of existing research on residential child care as well as studies of material culture and of care relationships more broadly. It argues that, despite increasing regulation and surveillance, adults and children find ways to show and feel love in the context of residential care. Whilst love may be regarded as something to be avoided or indeed prohibited in an adult/child care setting these deep bonds find expression in the everyday life of the children's home. By looking at love in this embodied way, the 'realness' of material things to assert connection and recognition of love (Layne, 2000) is examined. As Gorenstein (1996, p.8) suggests 'objects…[are] the perfect vehicles for conveying themes that are not commonly accepted in a community'. The paper emphasises the recognition of these symbolic and metaphorical forms of communication in practice.

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