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About this book

This reader takes debates about children's services forward by drawing on ideas based in social pedagogy and arguing that the concept of 'space' is crucial to relationships and practices with children and young people. It will stimulate students to question and rethink, and practitioners to innovate and challenge mainstream thinking.

Table of Contents


The idea for this book grew out of our interest in supporting the development of practice by examining the places and spaces of children and young people’s lives. It is evident to us that many practice interventions work with specific spaces and that some thinking used to explain aspects of contemporary policy and practice, including social exclusion, placement planning, transitions and globalisation, has a spatial dimension. We also note that youth and childhood are places, as in social positions temporarily occupied by each passing generation producing and produced by culture, identities and relationships. The design and delivery of services for children and young people in the UK can contribute (positively and negatively) to the process through which children and young people are assigned or stake a claim to these places.
Pam Foley, Stephen Leverett

1. Children’s spaces

This chapter examines the interrelationship of spaces, social structure and preteen children’s agency. It recognises that multiple understandings and experiences of space exist. In some cases spaces are created specifically for children by adults with specific interests or perceived needs in mind. The use and experience of space may vary between children in relation to factors such as age, gender and culture. Children also appropriate existing spaces or create new spaces for their own purposes. Spaces can also emerge through adult-child interrelationships and cooperation.
Stephen Leverett

2. Young people’s spaces

Young people’s spaces are diverse. They include spaces which are designed for young people’s use (for example schools), spaces that are open (most streets or public spaces) and places that are restricted according to the social networks or family situation in which young people find themselves (for example the home) or, due to their personal circumstances such as verbal or visual impairments, related to specific disabilities. The boundaries between these different spaces are fluid. They change over time as young people grow up, as rules or regulations change, or during particular times of the year, such as during the summer or during religious occasions or events. As a social geographer who conducts research with young people, I am interested in the ways in which young people have variable access to these different spaces according to the ways in which their social identities operate to include or empower them. This includes the mechanisms which work to include or exclude young people and the ways that young people respond to their experiences, how they use spaces and how they articulate their identities. Moreover, I am also interested in exploring and challenging the inequalities inherent in these processes in the hope that society can become more inclusive. In this chapter, I explore some of the social geographies of young people’s lives, focusing specifically upon home, school, street, the city and cyberspace. I have chosen these specific spaces as these are often the key spaces in young people’s everyday lives.
Peter Hopkins

3. Spaces-in-the-making, childhoods-on-the-move

Previous chapters of this book have outlined how childhoods — and policies, institutions, services and interventions addressing children and young people — are always spatial. That is, they are always played out in, and produce, particular kinds of spaces. This chapter provides an introduction to the work of geographers who attempt to better comprehend this spatiality. As geographers we understand spaces as complex, in-the-making, and characterised by mobilities at different scales. This chapter presents examples illustrating the complex geographies and mobilities of children in diverse settings. These examples deal with different, but interrelated, scales of mobility, from the very small scale, to the neighbourhood level, to national and international migrations.
John Horton, Peter Kraftl, Faith Tucker

4. Researching children and young people’s perspectives on place and belonging

The second half of the twentieth century saw increasing urbanisation and sub-urbanisation in the UK, particularly in the south-east of England. Housing was provided on a very large scale, and ‘new towns’, suburban sprawl, roads and motorways developed rapidly. Children often constituted a high proportion of the population of the suburbs and ‘new towns’. Local authority planning provision did not appear 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 to play in or to ‘hang out’ in (Morrow, 2001). However, renewed focus on the importance of neighbourhoods and communities in English social policy in the late 1990s generated research that explored people’s concerns about their localities, and a consistent theme that emerged from this research (and policy concern) was anxiety about children and young people in neighbourhoods (Social Exclusion Unit, 2000). This chapter draws on data collected in a sociological study conducted for the Health Education Authority (then the health promotion arm of the Department of Health) that explored the relevance of Putnam’s (1993) concept of ‘social capital’ in relation to children. Social capital was understood to be a community-level attribute, and consisted of the following features: social and community networks, civic engagement or participation; community identity and sense of belonging; and norms of cooperation, reciprocity and trust of others within the community (Putnam, 1993). The premise was that levels of social capital in a community have an important effect on people’s wellbeing. Health research with children and young people had tended to focus on individuals’ risk behaviours, like drug abuse, smoking and alcohol consumption, but the social context of young people’s everyday lives had not been explored in detail. Social capital has been contested at a number of levels, conceptually, methodologically and theoretically (discussed in depth elsewhere, see Morrow, 1999, 2001). My research drew on the theoretical paradigm proposed by the British social anthropologists Prout and James (1997). They argued that we need to move beyond psychologically based models of childhood as a period of socialisation, and emphasised that children are active social agents who shape the structures and processes around them (at least at the micro-level) and whose social relationships are worthy of study in their own right. I am a sociologist, and I have been working within the ‘new sociology of childhood’ paradigm. This recognises the importance of direct research with children and young people, gathering data from them about their everyday lives, in order to develop policies and programmes that are relevant and responsive to their concerns (Boyden and Ennew, 1997). This chapter focuses on urban spaces, and how such spaces are used and perceived by children.
Virginia Morrow

5. Play in an adult world: designing spaces with children

The key idea which lies at the heart of this chapter came to me a few years ago when I visited my old family home for the first time in almost 40 years. It is, I guess, fairly common to grow up in a small town and then move away as personal horizons change. Yet the environment where we have our most formative experiences, is lodged deep somewhere in our psyche. As Sancho Panza said, ‘a man’s true home is his childhood …’ (Cervantes, 2005). However, it is often a complete surprise when we revisit our childhood haunts as adults. Leastways, it was for me.
Mark Dudek

6. Democratic spaces

Democracy is both an invented and a chosen form of self-government based on equal representation, and a kind of social order, based on egalitarian principles. This chapter focuses on the latter, and specifically focuses on its effect on children and young people. Children and young people may be aware at some level, at some times, of a belief in democracy as the best form of government and one towards which most societies aspire. Not everyone will agree that democracy is self-evidently the best political system or that it should be part of everyday life and everyday language. Children and young people may also be aware of adults’ disaffection with their representative democratic structures, resentment of the political class and a lack of belief in the trustworthiness of politicians. And for some adults, the power of their vote does not feel in any way equal to the power of those possessing large economic and social capital. Nonetheless, a democratic system and democratic values would be claimed by most as part of the texture of this country, and by many that it therefore should feature in the present lives of its children and young people, as well as in their future lives as adults.
Pam Foley

7. Out of the way: children, young people and outdoor spaces

Modern-day childhood is seen to have many positive attributes: there is more awareness of children and young people’s needs, most benefit from higher living standards and increased attention is paid to their rights. Many children and young people have access to technologies and consumer goods that enable them to take up opportunities and communicate in ways that were not available in previous generations. But there is also a sense that contemporary children and young people are missing out on experiences that are seen to be integral to childhood. There is an ongoing perception, often profiled in the media, that there has been a ‘death of childhood’ and that children and young people have missed certain important positive experiences that are associated with being young (Fenton, 2006). The extent to which children play outdoors is often used as a barometer of contemporary child wellbeing in these debates. It is suggested that today’s children do not play outdoors to the same extent as in previous generations.
Susan Elsley

8. Growing up: moving through time, place and space from babyhood to adolescence

The growth of children and young people is usually experienced positively, even joyfully, by parents, teachers, neighbours and the wider family. One of the pleasures of working with children is often said to be ‘seeing them grow’. Yet, just as our ideas about children and childhood are socially constructed (James and James, 2004), so too are our ideas about their growth and development. Growth may be a taken-for-granted category, yet it is socially constructed, historically contingent and contested. How growth is perceived by children themselves, by parents or practitioners working with children — and how it is defined, how it should be promoted and regulated — is not fixed in space and time.
Lisa Arai

9. Children’s associative spaces and social pedagogy

At earlier points in this book the case for democracy not merely as an electoral system but as a fundamental social value for human equality, mutuality and social solidarity has been made. This chapter explores the application of democratic principles to children’s services by constructing them as children’s spaces, with children in democratic association with other children and with adults. These ideas are to be found in movements for radical education and in various youth movements, including the Kinderrepubliken of Germany.
Pat Petrie

10. Young Europeans: the Nordic approach and the pedagogical profession

Modern western societies are characterised by new patterns of family life that together with the focus on lifelong learning raise issues about what sort of practitioners are needed to work with ‘young Europeans’. New patterns of family life may collide with historic, national and traditional views and will bring into question existing forms of care and education for children and young people. Today, across Europe, there are many kinds of services offered to children and families. There is debate and discussion of what is the main task of these services and the level of skills needed by practitioners. Do we need an emphasis on worker as care giver or an emphasis on worker as educator? Should they be primarily specialists or generalists within the broad range of social-pedagogical work? What direction is work with young children moving in Europe? A key question is whether young children need to be included as early as possible in the main educational system and taught by teachers on curricula-based content and methodology in order to prepare them for the global economy of knowledge and skills; or whether a different approach should be chosen, one which strongly features integration of education and social care, supported by social pedagogues, that would be experienced more humanistically and democratically by children.
Stig G. Lund

11. Spaces for care and learning: a social pedagogical approach

In this chapter, a social pedagogical approach will be examined to discuss the blurred boundaries between the care and learning of children and young people and the spaces in which these activities take place. As a critical developmental psychologist I am interested in how ‘development’ may be seen as a product of the socio-cultural spaces that children and young people inhabit, rather than a universal stage-based process occurring without reference to the lived environment of the child. I am interested in how a social pedagogical approach to work with children and young people can be developed in the UK, (see, for example, Making Space, 2006). In this chapter I introduce the theoretical issues underpinning social pedagogy (and some of its antecedents) and discuss how these can be developed in practice. A key issue arising from a social pedagogical approach is the notion that care and learning are fundamentally linked in the lives of children and young people and are integral both to a child’s development and to work with children and young people. The blurring of boundaries between home and school, care and learning are discussed with regard to its implications for practice. I am also interested in the many meanings which ‘care’ as an activity can have. Working with children, young people and families involves provision of ‘care’ which is articulated through policy into practice. However, care is also a process of social relationships and attachments in which ‘care’ is the product of relationships and is experienced as emotional, practical and relational bonds. The developments described throughout this chapter draw on both elements of care to produce effective and meaningful ways of working with children, young people and families.
Lindsay O’Dell

12. Reflective spaces

We are both academics who support our students to reflect within practice-related courses at the Open University (OU). Reflection has established itself as an important part of theory and practice with children and young people. It is an activity that practitioners can do alone or with others to evaluate and learn more about the practices with which they are engaged. Practitioners can also model a reflective approach and facilitate children and young people’s reflection on the world around them. Reflecting on and within practice necessitates the provision and consideration of different kinds of space. In this chapter we consider reflective spaces (physical, relational and philosophical) where knowledge, theory, values and meaning are critically shared, applied and developed. A reflective space can be a dedicated place designed for personal or collective reflection, such as a journal, blog or team meeting, but it can also be an entire setting such as a classroom, playground, or a care environment for children and young people who are Looked After. Our exploration of how children and young people are integral to the reflective process draws upon ideas from the Reggio Emilia approach including the ‘listening context’ and the use of ‘documentation’. Here we look at the nature of reflection and its relationship to these different kinds of space. We argue that for reflection to achieve its potential, attention must be given to the creation, meaning and maintenance of these spaces, recognising that for practitioners there can be many practical and organisational barriers to be overcome if this is to be achieved.
Stephen Leverett, Andy Rixon
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