9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN04 Sociology of Children and Childhood

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Spatial Chilhoods Building II, C6.02

Childrens's Life Spaces in the City

Today, a majority of the world?s children lives in cities: compound by physical spaces and structures that entail both constrictions and opportunities for both children and adults.
The social environment represents an important issue for children; it emerges spontaneously in their discourse, especially in relation to the possibility that it provides for establishing interpersonal relations to peers and adults. In what sense does the current urban model facilitate or obstruct these contacts? What kind of resorts do children employ in order to achieve their objectives? What sort of coping strategies do they make use of?
The exploration of the space outside home is also a way for children to leave the private sphere and enter the public one, a way of making themselves visible and discover their own capacity of personal autonomy. What possibilities do children living in cities have to engage in explorative adventures? How do they avoid the risks of the public space? How do they negotiate their spaces of personal autonomy?
With these and other questions in mind, the study on the life of children and adolescents in the city of Madrid was carried out, using as principal informants the subjects of study themselves; in order to get closer to their routines, the facilities and barriers encountered in their daily life. The final purpose was to find out how they perceive the accessibility of the city and its public spaces as well as mapping their relation networks and the places they frequent and favour.
The results of the study shows that children are sensitive to problems that affects common coexistence, and especially the respect for traffic rules, the tearing up and bad use of common areas and buildings, and issues regarding the environment.
Through their discourse, children show that they are competent to live a child-life in an apparently hostile environment, the big city. They don?t dream of an idyllic past, a city that is not longer what it was, they live today and they wish to share their experiences and be taken into account.