Defining an agenda for the geography of children: Review and prospect

Hugh Matthews, Melanie Limb

    Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


    There is still only a limited development of a solidly grounded social and cultural geography prepared to conceptualize children as a neglected social grouping undergoing various forms of sociospatial marginalization. Given the focus and momentum of the ‘new’ cultural geography, we contend that this is an apposite time to define an agenda for the geography of children, which not only takes into account earlier studies which can inform con- temporary debate, largely drawn from an environmental psychology tradition, but which also recognizes the interface between sociology, anthropology and cultural studies and draws upon important work being undertaken by feminist and critical geographers. To date, much of the research on the geography of children has been blighted by fragmentation, narrow disciplinary perspectives and methodologies which do not sufficiently engage themselves with the lifeworld of children in the ‘here and now’. In this article we propose a working agenda based upon a set of seven generic propositions which highlight different aspects of children’s relationship with their physical and built environment, beyond the home, school and playground. Our emphasis in this review is on work which examines the experiences of children and how they ‘see the world’ around them. We recognize, however, that part of what children see are structures which constrain them. These may include the adult values imprinted on the physical and built landscapes in which they live, or the social constraints of the adult gaze. We argue that research on the lives of children should not just be reported for its own sake, but should lead to outcomes which encourage empowerment, participation and self-determination consistent with levels of competence. Key
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProgress in Human Geography
    Number of pages30
    ISBN (Print)0309-1325
    Publication statusPublished - 1999

    Publication series

    NameProgress in Human Geography


    • Children as outsiders
    • Children's participation
    • Environmental values
    • Geography of children
    • Rights of the child
    • Social and cultural geography
    • Sociospatial exclusion
    • Western (urban) society


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