Book Chapter

Young People's Emotional and Sensory Experiences of 'Getting By' in Challenging Circumstances



Wilson S (2015) Young People's Emotional and Sensory Experiences of 'Getting By' in Challenging Circumstances. In: Blazek M & Kraftl P (eds.) Children's Emotions in Policy and Practice: Mapping and Making Spaces of Childhood. Studies in Childhood and Youth. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 52-67.

Influenced by legal conceptions and institutional approaches, much literature on difficult family circumstances has focused on identifying the abuse and neglect suffered, and potential ‘outcomes’ for children and young people, including the risks that such experiences may pose for their future lives. This chapter, in contrast, highlights the importance of examining children’s and young people’s understandings and lived experience of such phenomena. As Newman (2002) argues, the meanings that children themselves attach to adversity are important, and these understandings may vary between children and adults. Work in geography, sociology and other disciplines associated with childhood studies, and the innovative methods they employ, may help to develop such understandings. Such work includes explorations of children’s autonomy in different spaces, and the importance of the everyday sensory, embodied and affective dimensions of children’s and young people’s spatial experience and place-making. This work also rejoins recent considerations of children’s emotional geographies (Blazek and Windram-Geddes, 2013). This chapter discusses these issues in relation to two studies of children and young people’s experiences of parental substance misuse, an issue that has attracted increasing attention in many countries (NCASA, 1999; ACMD, 2003; ANCD, 2006), and which has been estimated to affect two million young people in the UK (Manning et al., 2009). After a short background section on relevant theoretical work, and an introduction to the studies discussed, this chapter will present empirical findings on how sensory experience can inform the meaning of, and emotions in, domestic spaces in such circumstances, as well as implications for practice.

young people; emotions; sensory experience; spaces

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
Title of seriesStudies in Childhood and Youth
Publication date30/09/2015
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publisher URL…sb=9781137415592
Place of publicationBasingstoke
ISSN of series978-0-230-21686-0

People (1)


Dr Sarah Wilson

Dr Sarah Wilson

Senior Lecturer, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Projects (1)