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From Aberfan to the ‘Canvey Factor’: schools, children and industrial disasters

Preston, J (2016) 'From Aberfan to the ‘Canvey Factor’: schools, children and industrial disasters.' British Journal of Sociology of Education, 37 (4). pp. 607-622. ISSN 0142-5692

Abstract

Children, and schools, are potent symbols of victimhood in industrial disasters. In the case of historical industrial disasters such as Aberfan and Flixborough, and in terms of preparation for future industrial disasters under Control of Major Accident Hazard regulations, communities are seen as passive responders to accidents. Moreover, following industrial accidents, communities are frequently accused of culpability or profiting from the disaster. There is hence a double pathologisation in play, with communities seen as comprising passive victims and manipulative survivors. Using an historical approach, the official accounts of the Aberfan and Flixborough industrial accidents are challenged with a focus on schools and children. Rather than being passive victims of these accidents, schools and children demonstrated agency in terms of their tacit knowledge, reporting potential accidents and recording their consequences. This provides a lens through which to interrogate current policy on industrial safety as it relates to schools and communities.

Item Type: Article
Note:

First published online in October 2014.

Keywords: schools, disasters, agency, class, race, archives
Divisions: Institute for Education
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2017 14:39
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2017 08:41
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