Children in the City: Home, Neighborhood, and Community

By Pia Christensen; Margaret O'Brien | Go to book overview

Preface

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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Children in the City: Home, Neighborhood, and Community
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Tables x
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • 1 - Children in the City 1
  • References 11
  • 2 - Place, Space and Knowledge 13
  • Notes 27
  • 3 - Children's Views of Family, Home and House 29
  • 4 - 'Displaced' Children? 46
  • 5 - Shaping Daily Life in Urban Environments 66
  • 6 - Children in the Neighbourhood 82
  • References 98
  • 7 - The Street as a Liminal Space 101
  • 8 - Neighbourhood Quality in Children's Eyes 118
  • 9 - Regenerating Children's Neighbourhoods 142
  • Notes 160
  • 10 - Improving the Neighbourhood for Children 162
  • Notes 180
  • 11 - Planning Childhood 184
  • Note 204
  • Index 206
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