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Growing up urban: childhood, youth and the city


Key information

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Module description

The module aims to explore the diverse experiences of growing up in an increasingly urban world.  It centres on a sustained examination of the different ways that young people actively engage in making - and making sense of - urban space on their own terms, while accounting for the many factors that cause them to be marginalized or controlled through wider urban processes.  Part one considers the power relations that infuse such experiences, particularly through imagined, embodied and material geographies and sociological questions of difference, reproduction and inequality.  Part two considers your people's urban spatial practices, particularly through consideration of youth cultures and global political movements.

Part one - Power Relations

  1. Urban Geographies: spaces, materialities, bodies
  2. Social geographies: reproduction, difference and inequality
  3. Playing, living and learning in the city
  4. Experiencing urban change: home and belonging

Part two - Spatial Practices

  1. Growing up global
  2. Urban youth cultures
  3. Participation, politics and citizenship
  4. Urban planning, design and policy

Assessment details

Coursework; Written exam

Essay (50%)

Written exam (50%)

Educational aims & objectives

1) to provide an overview of key scholarship on the social and cultural constructions of childhood, youth and the city;

2) to develop critical perspectives on the urban geographies that arise from intersections between age and other markers of social difference;

3) to explore forms of agency, participation, creativity and citizenship that emerge when young people are recognised as urban social actors in their own right.

The module draws upon historical and contemporary case studies across a range of urban contexts in the Global North and South.  Students taking this module will have opportunities for active participation in lectures, and will be encouraged to apply the ideas and skills developed to their dissertation research and future career plans.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate critical awareness of the diverse experiences of young people's urban lives using a range of case studies and examples
  • Understand the processes through which notions of childhood, youth and the city have been socially and culturally constructed over time and in different urban contexts
  • Critically evaluate the utility and significance of approaching age as an intersectional social category, and the unequal urban geographies and contested power relations that arise through such identity politics
  • Articulate in-depth accounts of young peole's urban spatial practices with reference to wider geographical debates concerning agency, participation, citizenship and globalisation
  • Frame their understandings around their own experiences of childhood and youth, and potentially with reference to their current dissertation research and/or future careers

Teaching pattern

20hrs lectures