Children in the City: Home, Neighborhood, and Community

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

10

Improving the neighbourhood for children

Possibilities and limitations of 'social capital' discourses

Virginia Morrow


Background

The second half of the twentieth century saw increasing urbanisation and suburbanisation in the UK. The requirements of industry for increasing mobility of workers meant that housing was provided on a very large scale, and 'new towns', suburban sprawl and high-rise housing estates developed rapidly, particularly around parts of the south-east of England. Increased road building and corresponding volumes of road traffic have gradually changed the urban landscape in these areas. Children under 18 often constitute a disproportionately high section of the population of the suburbs and 'new towns' (Morrow 2001a). Local authority planning provision does not appear to have been able to keep up with changes in the structure of the population, nor changes in the physical structure of the landscape in terms of provision of leisure spaces, parks and places for children 1 to play in or to 'hang out' in (Morrow 2001a). However, renewed focus on the importance of neighbourhoods and communities in UK social policy has brought about a wave of social research that has explored lay people's concerns about their localities, and a consistent theme that emerges from this research (and policy concern) is anxiety about children and young people in neighbourhoods (SEU 2000).

The chapter draws on data collected in a research project conducted for the Health Education Authority 2 that explored the relevance of Putnam's (1993) concept of social capital in relation to children. Social capital consists of the following features: social and community networks; civic engagement or participation; community identity and sense of belonging; and norms of co-operation, reciprocity and trust of others within the community (Putnam 1993). The premise is that levels of social capital in a community have an important effect on people's well-being. Health behaviours and practices may superficially appear to be a private matter for the individual, but in reality health practices take place in a range of social arenas, which, for children, are constrained by everyday contexts, which will vary from school or institution (for previous research see Mayall 1994), family (see Backett 1992; Brannen

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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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