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



Emond R (2016) More than just a bracelet: the use of material symbolism to communicate love. International Journal of Social Pedagogy, 5 (1), pp. 34-50.;

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.

Children; Ethics of Care; Material Culture

This article was published in Joint Special Issue, Love in Professional Practice] Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 15(3) and International Journal of Social Pedagogy, 5(1), 34-50. doi: Available online and SJRCC is published by CELCIS, ISSN: 1478–1840. IJSP is published by UCL Press. ISSN: 2051-5804

International Journal of Social Pedagogy: Volume 5, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2016
Publication date online01/12/2016
Date accepted by journal01/11/2016
PublisherUCL Press
Publisher URL…0000001/art00004

People (1)


Dr Ruth Emond
Dr Ruth Emond

Associate Professor, Social Work