Imagined Orphans: Poor Families, Child Welfare, and Contested Citizenship in London

Synopsis

"In Imagined Orphans, Lydia Murdoch focuses on the discrepancy between the representation and the reality of children's experiences within welfare institutions - a discrepancy that she argues stems from conflicts over middle- and working-class notions of citizenship that arose in the 1870s and persisted until the First World War. Reformers' efforts to depict poor children as either orphaned or endangered by abusive or "no-good" parents fed upon the poor's increasing exclusion from the Victorian social body. Reformers used the public's growing distrust and pitiless attitude toward poor adults to increase charity and state aid to the children. With a critical eye to social issues of the period, Murdoch urges readers to reconsider the complex situations of families living in poverty."