In the Public Eye: Children’s Images, Experiences and Identities in Visual Culture

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper takes as its starting point the proliferation of images of children on social media, focusing on growing concerns in Britain about contemporary practices of posting family photographs on sites such as Facebook, Instagram
and Twitter and the implications of a child's life being visually recorded in this way. It is estimated that, for example, some parents will have posted over 1,000 photographs online by a child's 5th birthday but, at the same time, little is
known about how children experience having a visual online identity created and curated for them (Ammari et al, 2015). However to interrogate notions that children are passive recipients of such visual identities, we reflect on two
forms of visual data. The first are press photographs of us as children, through which we illustrate how they were created by adults to visually frame our respective childhoods in and for 'the public eye' but also how we can use them
to read our own identities as working-class girls. We then examine a selection of iconic images from The Guardian's 'That's Me in the Picture' series to consider how these images are understood by the children featured as records of
exceptional or mundane aspects of their childhood and as opportunities to celebrate or commemorate their sense of self, then and now. The paper thus seeks to trace how, when the child's voice is brought into the analytical frame,
images of childhood in the public domain can be understood as more than presentations of children by adults.
Period4 Apr 2017
Event titleBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference: Recovering the Social: Personal Troubles and Public Issues
Event typeConference
LocationManchester, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational