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Children on the move: Children's everyday mobility and access to public space in Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education. (Barn- och ungdomsvetenskap)
2016 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Existing research on children's mobility assumes that children's independent mobility is important for children's development, health and wellbeing. A decline in children's movement has occurred in the last thirty years (Björklid & Gummesson 2013, cf. Hillman, Adams & Whitelegg 1990, Van der Spek & Noyon, 1995; Tranter 1993).  The amount of cycling children has halved since the 1980s (Larsson 2012). This trend can be attributed to an increased institutionalization of childhood (James, Jenks and Prout 1998) and research has shown that children's decreased mobility largely depends on parents risk compensation (SKL 2013, Valentine 2004, Adams 1993, Thomsen 2005). Children's activities in general are governed by adults, and parents rather drive their children by car than let them walk or bike to school or leisure activities. Another consequence of the car hegemony is that children's areas for informal play in public space are disappearing, at least in the urban areas.

Set against this background, the presentation will discuss the preliminary and tentative findings of an ongoing research project on children’s mobility and children’s places in the community. The research project is focused on how children perceive their physical environment, how they apprehend their everyday mobility and mobility-related factors such as freedom, independence, safety, security and risk.

The material is comprised of ethnographic material with children aged 7-13 from five city districts (ranging from white middle-class to ethnically diverse working class areas) and one peri-urban locality in Uppsala county in Sweden. The children have participated in walks to school and in their residential area with me, carried out a photography mission, filled in a week long diary of their movement and been interviewed. I have also interviewed the children’s parents or custodians, and carried out observations of the physical environment in the children’s communities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
child and youth studies, mobility, transport, built environment
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-297864OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-297864DiVA: diva2:943870
Childhood, Åbo, Finland, 6-8 June 2016
Available from: 2016-06-28 Created: 2016-06-28 Last updated: 2016-06-28

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