This seminar series will explore feelings of 'home' and 'belonging' when using public services across the lifecourse, in spaces including childcare settings, hospitals and sites of care for older people, at a time of significant change to such services. Through focusing on ideas of 'home spaces' and 'homeliness' the seminars will ask wider questions about public and private lives within the spaces. Specifically the series will ask who 'feels at home' or not in these spaces and how they are experienced by users and workers. It will develop a new framework for understanding institutional, semi-institutional and domestic spaces in relation to service provision. A particular set of issues will be the context of sweeping change and cuts to the UK welfare state at the present moment, which potentially affect different groups in different ways.
The seminars draw on a variety of ways of thinking about home and public and private lives, including feminist theory which has often seen homes as places of repression, and among social policy-makers, who often have aspirational models of home and domestic life in mind when designing policies. This suggests that 'home spaces' have contradictory qualities and that what might feel 'homely' for one group excludes others. The seminars also draw on new approaches to researching spaces within institutions, for example using visual media and understanding sensory, material and emotional aspects.
The seminar series has the following objectives:
1) To investigate how far current changes in public service provision are reconfiguring experiences of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’, through a focus on ‘home spaces’ at different stages of the lifecourse and in the context of historical perspectives
2) To assess how these spaces frame new relationships and new experiences of inclusion and exclusion for different groups of users and professionals
3) To bring together analytical and methodological resources to develop new frameworks to understand these spaces which cross conventionally ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres
4) To enable a multi-disciplinary group of researchers and practitioners, across social policy, geography, sociology, childhood studies, education, gerontology, history, health studies, politics and anthropology, to generate new understandings across research, policy and practice, and new capacity for further projects.