PhD Student, University of Birmingham

Laura is one of the Social History Society’s two elected postgraduate representatives.

Profile picture of Laura Sefton

My research analyses connections between childhood, consumerism, and citizenship in twentieth century Britain by looking at the relationship between children and money. Part of my work examines the way this relationship was mediated by the state, businesses, and financial institutions. Using archival sources, I trace how children’s relationship with money was regulated, from Victorian and Edwardian legislative interventions through to the activities of the advertising industry in the 1980s. The second half of my thesis asks what this history would look like if there was a more thorough engagement with children’s voices. Predominantly dealing with children’s writing, it recreates what money meant to children at different historical moments themselves characterised by money: the hungry thirties, the affluent fifties and the neoliberal eighties. I argue that money was part of children’s everyday life, their relationships, and their sense of self as well as informing them about the wider world.

My research is informed by approaches from both consumer history and the history and sociology of childhood. In combining these approaches, it seeks to write children into the history of consumer society. It also contributes to a growing body of scholarship dedicated to uncovering the historical experiences of children and upholds that this history is essential to our understanding of broader processes in twentieth century Britain.

Away from my research, I’m interested in exploring the role of postgraduates and early career researchers within the academy. I’m especially interested in the relationship between precarity and the historical discipline more broadly, believing that the working conditions of precarious researchers will shape the future of the historical discipline as increasing amounts of history are written and conceived under relatively new material pressure. I blog about this at https://laurajsefton.wordpress.com

If you have any queries or problems you wish to voice, you can contact her on Twitter @LauraJSefton