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Historical institutional child abuse: Activist mobilisation and public inquiries
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The abuse of children in institutional settings is an issue of ongoing social, public, and political concern internationally. While societal responses to historical abuse have been the subject of considerable scholarship in recent years, conceptualisation of the role of activism remains limited. This article aims to advance sociological and interdisciplinary perspectives on nonrecent institutional child abuse through a conceptualisation of activist mobilisation. The article begins by providing context for the emergence of institutional child abuse as a social issue. A brief overview of key themes and debates in the interdisciplinary literature is then offered, and a critical gap in current scholarship is identified in relation to activism. Drawing on illustrative examples of activist mobilisation, both in the form of survivor narratives and strategies aimed at influencing policy, the article sets out how a sociology of activism in the field of historical institutional child abuse might proceed. Through attention to the social dynamics of activism, and conceptualisation of collective action in this domain as a social movement, the article provides new insights for the field and an alternative to sociological theorisation of responses to historical institutional child abuse as simply constituting a public scandal or moral panic.