Child Poverty in the Cultural Imaginary: Digital Photographs, Dominant Stereotypes and the Media

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper examines the nature and currency of digital images of child poverty in contemporary Britain and explores how particular stereotypes of, for example, blighted urban landscapes and 'broken families' have come to dominate depictions of disadvantage in online media reportage. Our argument is situated in a context of rising social inequality across Europe and increasingly punitive and derogatory discourses around poorer people's lives in the media. The
aim of the paper, however, is to consider not only the significance of context for reading images of child poverty but also the value of different theoretical approaches for interrogating processes of interpretation and meaning making. In
this we suggest how the language and method of social semiotics offer useful tools through which to articulate how images of child poverty might provoke particular readings. At the same time, we identify how images are always in
internal dialogue with the texts in which they are embedded and in external dialogue with their times. By illustrating the insights to be gained by holding these two approaches in tension within analyses of 'found' images, the paper seeks to extend an often neglected theoretical field in the sociology of childhood literature and to encourage more critical reflection on practices of image based research with children and young people.
Period8 Apr 2016
Event titleBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference: Global Societies: Fragmenting and Connecting
Event typeConference
Location Birmingham , United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational