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Cultures of Harm

In her research into Cultures of Harm in Institutions of Care, Dr Louise Hide investigates how entrenched belief systems and cultural factors – language, behaviours, and the use of space and clothing – gave rise to abuse that was sometimes ‘hidden in plain sight’ for decades.

While most of the large Victorian asylums closed during the latter decades of the twentieth century, smaller institutions for people who are unable to live independently will exist for the foreseeable future. Currently, there are over 13,000 care homes of varying sizes in England (CQC, August 2016). As institutional life continues so, too, do abuse and neglect as the ‘scandals’ of Winterbourne View Hospital (2011), Stafford Hospital (2013), and the Southern NHS Foundation Trust (2015) testify. Clearly, lessons still need to be learned as to how systemic abuse arises and is perpetuated.  In this project, Dr Hide returns to the major inquiries that were conducted during the 1970s into abuse and neglect in adult institutions for long-term care, mainly for people with psychiatric disorders and learning disabilities.

As Birkbeck/Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellow, and building on her broader research interests around psychiatry and its institutions, she organised a major international academic conference in April 2016: ‘Cultures of Harm in Institutions of Care. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives’. She also organised ‘Undercover. Institutional Abuse, Covert Investigations and History’ in collaboration with the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, with a presentation by Joe Plomin (BBC Panorama Director and Producer who exposed abuse at Winterbourne View, 2011).

To contact Dr Hide about this on-going research, see her webpage.

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