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

Urban Spaces and Childhood: Urban Contexts of Childhood Socialization in Lisbon Metropolitan Area

Integrating childhood sociology and urbanism in a theoretical-empirical way, this research (i) examines children?s living experience in five economically, culturally and spatially contrasting urban environments of Lisbon Metropolitan Area and (ii) aims to outline urban planning and design solutions that allow a reinforcement of children?s autonomy in their specific urban settings. On the first stage, we use a school-based survey of primary schools in five urban neighbourhoods: Brandoa, Encarnação, Fernão Ferro, Prazeres e Telheiras (as defined by the school areas). This survey is based on a self-answer questionnaire applied to 247 children attending 2nd, 3rd and 4th school year and 180 parents, which tries to grasp both the objective and subjective dimensions of children?s daily urban experience, autonomy and safety. From the general conditions of urban experience, a special attention is given to children?s use of urban public space and facilities, their spatial mobility to and from school and their overall satisfaction with the neighbourhood, either with the aspects related to the daily experience and usage of urban spaces, or their satisfaction with social relationships connected to the activities performed in the neighbourhood. For the evaluation of conditions of urban autonomy and safety we use a questionnaire, focusing on parent?s and children?s perception of the ?dangers? of urban life. On the second stage, the results of the survey are statistically analysed and compared by neighbourhood, and correlated to specific ?urban metrical indicators?, as a result of other actual researches, such as population density, areas of public, semi-private and private open spaces, with and without everyday social interaction, dimensions and areas of sidewalks and walkways, etc. The central question is whether the structural properties of local urban space form a vital dimension of childhood socialization and, if so, to which of these properties we should pay more attention when planning and designing our cities. The statistical results indicate significant variations by neighbourhood in how children use urban public space in Lisbon Metropolitan Area, that we can also confirm in correlations between the urban indicators, children?s autonomy of movements and their perception of fear related to the urban public spaces.