Children in the City: Home, Neighborhood, and Community

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

5

Shaping daily life in urban environments

Helga Zeiher


Insularisation, domestication, and shaping daily life

In our cities, children play ball games in sports clubs rather than on the streets, and climb playground apparatus rather than trees. Where urban areas are formed by functional differentiation, particular opportunities for and constraints on the actions of individuals are spatially fixed in specialised centres. Some are also temporally fixed by time-scheduled activity programmes. Places geared toward children's needs, often toward the needs of children of a particular age, are scattered like islands on the map of the city at greater or lesser distances from one another. Other places are specialised for the purposes of adults' use, and are often inaccessible, dangerous or simply not of interest to children. Thus, the societal differentiation of childhood is reflected in the urban landscape as segregation of places for children and for adults.

How do children live in and move around such landscapes of islands? This question shifts the focus from urban space to children's daily lives and addresses the interplay between the spatial and temporal organisation of children's urban environments and children's ways of living their daily lives in the course of time within these environments. In the research project from which I would like to report in this chapter, Hartmut J. Zeiher and the author conceptualised this interconnection between spatial and temporal aspects of childhood structure and children's agency, developed related case study methods, and studied 10-year-olds in Berlin (Zeiher and Zeiher 1994; H. J. Zeiher 2001a).

Day after day, over the course of the day, a child engages in one activity after another, often at different locations. The places that a child uses in the course of time can be seen as strung together by the individual life path. This sequence of places constitutes his or her individual temporalised life space. During the daily and weekly repetitions of everyday life, the frequented places form a pattern that is characteristic of the individual life space. In functionally differentiated urban landscapes, the patterns of the children's movements reflect the fact of spatial fragmentation as well as of centralisation. Children spend much of their time within the confines of islands such as

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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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