Título do Projeto: As crianças e o seu direito à cidade: Combater a desigualdade urbana através do desenho participativo de cidades amigas das crianças
Project Name: Children and their right to the city: Tackling urban inequity through the participatory design of child friendly cities
Project Duration: From 01-10-2018 to 30-09-2021
Funding: € 239.987, 36
Scientific Domain: Social Sciences
Scientific Area: Sociology
Funding: FCT – Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology
This work was supported by FCT, I.P., the Portuguese national funding agency for science, research and technology, under the Project PTDC/SOC-SOC/30415/2017.
Keywords: right to the city; child-friendly city; place relations; participatory planning
PI: Eunice Cristina do Nascimento Castro Seixas
Co-PI: Paulo Alexandre do Nascimento Seixas
Applicant Organisation: SOCIUS - Centro de Investigação em Sociologia Económica e das Organizações, Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão (ISEG), Universidade de Lisboa
Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Letras, Instituto de Sociologia da Universidade do Porto (coordinator of the case-studies in Porto: João Teixeira Lopes)
Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas (ISCSP/Universidade de Lisboa), Centro de Administração e Políticas Públicas (CAPP)
(Coordinator of the case-studies in ISCSP: Paulo Castro Seixas)
Coordinators of the Case-Studies:
Eunice Castro Seixas (PI, SOCIUS, ISEG, University of Lisbon)
Paulo Castro Seixas (Co-PI, CAPP, ISCSP, University of Lisbon)
João Teixeira Lopes (FLUP, University of Porto)
Other Research Members:
Benedita Portugal Melo (Instituto de Educação, University of Lisboa)
Catarina Tomás (Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa)
Inês Barbosa (Research Fellow at IS-FLUP)
Lígia Ferro (IS-FLUP)
Maria Fernandes-Jesus (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa -ISCTE-IUL, CIS-IUL)
Rita Cássia (Research Fellow at CAPP, ISCSP, University of Lisboa)
Brief Description of the Project
Although sociological research has shown the importance of place and environment to children’s lives, namely to their health, independent mobility, approach to social problems, social identity, sense of safety, and general impact on inequality and inequity, children are still seldom included in urban planning.
As a result, cities lack safe public places for children to walk, play, and build healthy relationships with the environment.
This project aims to tackle this inequity by using a participatory approach to investigate children’s relationships with urban public places in the two major Portuguese cities (Lisbon and Porto).
We use an ethnographic, child-centered and participatory approach, considering children as ‘experts’ in this process. Children’s perspectives are then transposed into urban planning through a bottom-up participatory methodology, involving the local community and decision-makers, in order to design proposals for a child friendly-city.
Although sociological research has shown the importance of place and environment to children's lives, namely to their health, independent mobility, approach to social problems, social identity, sense of safety, and general impact on inequality and inequity (Ai94; Ca13a;Ca13b;Ho&Va00; Kru&Ch05; Le.etal11; Ma&Li99; St12; Va04; Wr04), children are still seldom included in urban planning.
As a consequence of this invisibility of children, cities lack safe public places for the multitude of children that live there, to walk, play, and build healthy relationships with the environment.
This project aims to tackle this inequity by using a participatory approach to investigate children's relationships with urban public places in the two major Portuguese cities (Lisbon and Porto) and major tourism centers.
Both Lisbon and Oporto are interesting case studies as they prepare this year their respective applications for the certification 'UNICEF-friendly city' of UNICEF.
Starting from the assumption that children are social actors with valid knowledge and capable of political participation, with a "right to the city" (Le96), we build from the literature on children's relationships with place and child-friendly cities, understanding "childhoods as socio-cultural spaces", performed by children (Ce15; Ho&Va00; Ai01).
Analyzing children's relationship with place from their own perspective, we use an ethnographic, child-centered and participatory approach based on a plurality of methodological resources (Pe.etal.16; So.etal05).
The main objective is to understand children's appropriation of urban public places, and more specifically, how these appropriations are related with child-environmental identities (Ma07) and the role played by ICTs, as well as art in these identities; children's confrontation with urban difference (including that difference associated to foreigners and tourists); children's sense of safety and relationship with urban violence; children's care for the environment and relationship with the non-human world; children's agency and sense of community; and children's practices of transgression.
Considering children as "experts", we aim to transpose this data into urban planning by fostering dialogue with the community and decision-makers in order to design possibilities for a child friendly-city.
The team includes sociologists with strong experience in urban studies and ethnography, researchers from the fields of sociology of infancy and development, and other members with relevant work in political participation of young people, science and technology studies and collaborative methodologies.
The PI, a PhD in sociology, with a background in psychology, has worked on issues related with people-place bonds, local knowledge and political participation, involvement of the citizens in environment issues and qualitative and collaborative methodologies.
Objectives/Research Plan and Methodologies
The main research question that underpins this project is the following: How do children experience and relate to the various urban public spaces in the two main cities of Portugal: Lisbon and Porto?
Developing research that answers this question is vital to foster more inclusive, participatory and child-friendly urban planning policies.
The timeliness of this project results from a combination of factors: a gap in the literature in Portugal on children's relations with public places and the city in general; a growing international interest in the topic of children's rights to the city and a rising number of child-friendly cities initiatives; Lisbon and Porto's current application to the certification of Child Friendly Cities (CFC); the lack of bottom-up, participatory and inclusive urban planning initiatives in Portugal and the lack of productive dialogue between social science researchers and urban planning decision-makers.
CRiCity will contribute to fill these research gaps, at the same time that it can assist in empirically supporting both Lisbon and Porto's application to the certification of Child Friendly Cities (CFC), linking sociological research with policy-making.
The main objectives of this project can thus be systematized as follows: 1) To enhance the visibility of children as valid political actors with a right to contribute to decision-making processes about urban planning; 2) To analyze children's plural relationships and appropriations of public spaces in the cities of Porto and Lisbon; 3) To promote intergenerational dialogue and social learning within the community through participatory urban planning and 4) To build collaborative proposals for a child-friendly city in Porto and Lisbon, taking into account children's experiences and place-relationships, as well as the wider community and the tourists attending these places.
CRiCity offers an innovative research strategy with a unique combination of objects of study and research methods to address these issues.
In order to meet these objectives, several case-studies will be developed in both Lisbon and Porto.
In all of these, ethnographic, child-centred and collaborative methodologies will be used to analyse children's relationship with public places, namely: how they conceive and appropriate urban public spaces such as their neighborhood, streets, squares, parks and gardens as well as places and equipment that are specifically designed for them, like playgrounds; what do children consider to be friendly or hostile environments/places; what are the problems children encounter when they are in these public spaces; what kind of interactions and artistic/creative expressions are either facilitated or hampered in these places, and how do children envision the ideal (child-friendly) city.
A plurality of child-centered research methods will be used such as: participant observation, walking along and conversational Interviews, story writing, and visual techniques (drawing, neighborhood mapping, collaborative photography and auto photography, multimedia field diary, etc.).
Moreover, this project will not merely reveal children's plural experiences and relationships with urban public places, but will also seek to integrate their voices into urban planning. This will be done through a participatory planning design, drawing on the knowledge, experience, and perspectives of people who inhabit the planning area (De&Ko17).
In all the case-studies, research will start out from this general approach of bottom-up, child-centered participatory planning to then use a variety of methods and techniques to involve the wider community (families, university students, leaders of local associations, teachers, social workers and decision-makers) in the process, fostering intergenerational dialogue and social learning.