Reflections on Methods for Exploring Children’s Encounter with the Urban Environment

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While children have as much right to the city as other people, spatial planners tend to restrict children to child-specific places such as playgrounds. With an eye to designing cities as places for everyone, we explored together with children how they experience their city and what they think about it. In this paper we reflect on the use of research methods in our exploration. In our attempt to engage a class of 22 eight-year-olds, we used a combination of drawing, interviewing, walking and photography. Findings and feedback from the children teach us that they interpret things in their own distinctive way, highlighting the importance of involving them in research and other processes from beginning to end. Moreover, whereas participation is usually set up with an eye to future changes, our study shows the value of studying how children see and do things in its own right.

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Children have as much “right” to the city as adult citizens, yet they lose out in the urban spatial justice stakes. Built environments prioritizing motor vehicles, a default urban planning position that sees children as belonging in child-designated areas, and safety discourses, combine to restrict children’s presence and opportunities for play, rendering them out of place in public space. In this context, children’s everyday appropriations of public spaces for their “playful imaginings” can be seen as a reclamation of their democratic right to the city: a prefigurative politics of play enacted by citizen kids. In this article, we draw on data collected with 265 children in Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand, to consider how children’s playful practices challenge adult hegemony of the public domain and prefigure the possibilities of a more equal, child-friendly, and playful city.
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Neighborhoods are important places of aging and meaningful contexts of life for many older people. The overall aim of this study was to explore the public life of older people aging in place in order to understand neighborhoods as the material places where public life occurs, networks as the social places of public life, and to examine how these neighborhoods and networks influence the experience of aging and wellbeing. Adopting a friendly visiting methodology, data was collected over an 8-month period using participant observation, visual methods and an innovative interview technique called the “go along method”. Data were analyzed using grounded theory and a coding strategy that integrated textual, visual, and auditory data. Results provide insights into the micro-territorial functioning of neighborhoods and highlight third places and transitory zones as significant sites for older residents. Embedded within these places is a natural neighborhood network — a web of informal relationships and interactions that enhance well being and shape the everyday social world of older adults aging in place.
This article draws on the experience of three research projects where photography was used with children as a data collection method and presentation tool. It was used as a way of trying to enhance opportunities for adults to hear about topics from the perspective of children. The projects were not designed to investigate the use of cameras as a research methodology; the article is a synthesis of incidentally observed outcomes and issues raised by the use of cameras within these projects. Watching young children has told us a lot about how they engage with their environment and how to help them fit into the adult agendas we call ‘education’, ‘growing up’ and ‘life’, but how much does it tell us about how children really experience their worlds?
List of Illustrations. Acknowledgements. Introduction/Itinerary/Overture. Part I: Discovering Thirdspace: . 1. The Extraordinary Voyages of Henri Lefebvre. 2. The Trialectics of Spatiality. 3. Exploring the Spaces that Difference Makes: Notes on the Margins. 4. Increasing the Openness of Thirdspace. 5. Heterotopologies: Foucault and the Geohistory of Otherness. 6. Re--Presenting the Spatial Critique of Historicism. Part II: Inside and Outside Los Angeles: . 7. Remembrances: A Heterotopology of the Citadel--LA. 8. Inside Exopolis: Everyday Life in the Postmodern World. 9. The Stimulus of a Little Confusion: A Contemporary Comparison of Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Select Bibliography. Name Index. Subject Index.
This review catalogs approaches to involving children in local agency land use planning processes. Four approaches are defined: scholarly, practice, educational, and rights-based. There is only a weak link between any of these approaches and actual local agency land use planning. However, the rightsbased approach is the most holistic of the four. Examining these approaches raised questions. These questions are discussed and lead into the formulation of a new approach that synthesizes components from all of the studied approaches.
The Great Good Place argues that "third places" - where people can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation - are the heart of a community's social vitality and the grassroots of democracy.
Children’s drawings have gained renewed interest as anthropologists and other researchers search for methods that align with the current conceptualization of children as social agents and cultural producers. In this article, based upon fieldwork in the Central Philippines, I critically examine the claim that drawing is a “child-centered” research technique. In particular, I discuss adult–child power relationships and ethical issues that arise when asking children and youth to draw, assumptions about using children’s drawings as a means of understanding their perspectives, and the use of drawings as a tool of child and youth empowerment.
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