CRiCity at 14th Conference of the European Sociological Association (ESA)

CRiCity researchers have participated in the 14th Conference of the European Sociological Association (ESA) “Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging” in Manchester, United Kingdom, 20 – 23 August 2019, with the following papers: 


RN04_07b: Lived experiences of generational relations
Time: 22/Aug/2019: 4:00pm-5:30pm · Location: GM.328

Exploring Children’s Experiences, Barriers and Boundaries in the City and (Re)Imagining Children’s Places

Eunice Castro Seixas 1, Benedita Portugal Melo 2, Catarina Tomás 3, Maria Fernandes-Jesus 4, Paulo Castro Seixas 5

1 University of Lisbon, ISEG, CSG, Portugal; 2 University of Lisbon, Instituto de Educação, Portugal; 3 Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa; CICS.NOVA.FCSH NOVA, Portugal; 4 Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), CIS-IUL, Portugal; 5 University of Lisbon, CAPP, ISCSP, Portugal

Recent sociological research on childhood has emphasized children’s agency and autonomy as social actors, who interpret and experience places differently from adults. Nevertheless, children are seldom heard in matters of urban planning. Consequently, some of the public places designed for children are not appropriated by them as their own, making these "places for children", but not "children's places". These discrepancies are related to boundaries between children’s and adults’ living experiences and place-making processes. They can also be understood as barriers (both symbolic and material) to children’s access to the city, or as restrictions to children’s social and cultural rights, namely their "right to the city". However, cities are also, by their spatial and relational characteristics, potential contexts for promoting children's’ rights and empowerment (a rising number of child-friendly cities initiatives, as well as participatory and inclusive urban planning are examples of this). It is in this dialectic relation between restriction and possibility that CRiCity project tries to analyze the condition of childhood in the city, from an interdisciplinary perspective anchored in the work of Urban Studies, Sociology of Childhood, and Public Administration. We present preliminary findings of our analysis of children’s experiences and sense of place, including their own notions barriers, boundaries and belonging, in various urban public spaces in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Diverse child-centered methodologies, as well as ethnographic observation are used, including techniques that focus on the children’s imagination of the ideal neighborhood, park or city to grasp children’s aspirations of belonging.


RN37_07b: Inequalities in urban space
Time: 22/Aug/2019: 4:00pm-5:30pm · Location: BS.3.20

All City and no Play: Tackling Urban Inequality Through the Study of Child (Un)Friendly Public Spaces

Lígia Ferro 1, Inês Barbosa 1, João Teixeira Lopes 1, Eunice Castro Seixas 2

1 University of Porto / Institute of Sociology, FLUP, Portugal; 2 University of Lisbon, SOCIUS/CSG, ISEG

Recent research points out the relevance of environment and physical context for children’s individual and social development. Despite this evidence, children’s practices, needs and desires are scarcely included in urban planning and urban public spaces are often designed by and for “adults”. Previous research has highlighted changes in “children's geographies” and inequalities in their access to the city (at the symbolic level but at the material one as well). On the other hand, intergenerational, interclass, interethnic and intergender ties established through urban sociabilities in public spaces can be paramount for enriching the city as place for cultural diversity. Starting from an ethnography carried out in the city of Porto, Portugal, which is currently experiencing an accelerated process of gentrification and housing crisis, we discuss the first results within the scope of the project CRiCity. Drawing from the data collected through observation, field diaries, walking along and interviews at two parks in the city of Porto (in Paranhos and Campanhã), we show how age, gender, class and ethnicity are intertwined, shaping the uses of public space, urban sociabilities and belonging to the city. We also present the first recommendations for including children in the urban planning as a way to effectively address their “right to the city” and their “right to participation”, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 30 years ago.

Project “Children and their right to the city: Tackling urban inequity through the participatory design of child friendly cities” (CRiCity) has funding from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.