Children in the City: Home, Neighborhood, and Community

Children in the City: Home, Neighborhood, and Community

Children in the City: Home, Neighborhood, and Community

Children in the City: Home, Neighborhood, and Community

Synopsis

This timely and thought-provoking book explores children's lives in contemporary cities. At a time of intense debate about the quality of life in cities, this book examines how they can become good places for children to live in. Through contributions from childhood experts in Europe, Australia and America, the book shows the importance of studying children's lives in cities in a comparative and generational perspective. It also contains fascinating accounts of city living from children themselves, and offers practical design solutions. The authors consider the importance of the city as a social, material and cultural place for children, and explore the connections and boundaries between home, neighbourhood, community and city. Throughout, they stress the importance of engaging with how children see their city in order to reform it within a child-sensitive framework. This book is invaluable reading for students and academics in the field of anthropology, sociology, social policy and education. It will also be of interest to those working in the field of architecture, urban planning and design.

Excerpt

In their Introduction to Children in the City, Pia Christensen and Margaret O'Brien draw attention to the current intense international debate about the future of the city. Half of the world's population, that is over 6 billion people, live in cities. City living presents many advantages because, in principle, it concentrates services, social networks, cultural resources and so on together and enables their efficient provision. However, in practice contemporary cities face many problems. Although there are still many differences of scale and kind between cities in different parts of the world, these issues traverse the distinction between developed and developing countries. For example, poverty flourishes in the midst of prosperity and in many countries the gap between the rich and the poor is widening; social divisions proliferate and new ones are created; people face homelessness and insecure tenure; there are threats to the environment and health; and transport systems face overload and breakdown. Such problems might, it seems, be best approached through new social and political alliances and through forms of inclusive governance that help to make the voices of marginalised groups, including children, better heard. Though this book deals primarily with children of the 'North', it nevertheless brings an international dimension to the discussion, with contributions from Europe, the Americas and Australia.

Children too are concentrated in cities. It is estimated by the UN that 60 per cent of the world's children will live in cities by the year 2025. For millions of children the contours of their everyday life and experience are (in part) shaped by city environments. Many contributors to this volume show the importance of this, for example in their relationships with adults and other children, their mobility and the kinds of experiences that are opened or closed for them. Children experience and use the urban environment in ways that may overlap with but are also different from adults. The problems of contemporary cities impact on them through, for example, crime, traffic, racism and environmental decay and squalor. Not all children are affected in the same way. Relatively affluent children may be insulated and isolated from these problems (although the social division that this maintains and perhaps magnifies is also a problem). For poorer children the street and other public spaces may still be important places. But in their use of them they are often

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