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.