Young people’s play with urban public space: Geographies of hanging out

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


    This chapter looks into young people’s hanging out in the context of urban public space. Against a reviewed background of earlier research, the phenomenon is explored by discussing the privatization of public space that is taking place in Western countries. Due to ‘security talk’ and widely shared notions of ‘safety’, young people have few opportunities for independent mobility. Young people’s lives are often highly scheduled with school and organized activities, and they are pushed to spend even their limited free time at places specifically appointed for them. They are thus spatially planned ‘out’ from the public. As a result of this development, shopping malls and other commercial spaces that are considered safe have become important scenes in the geographies of hanging out. For that reason, the chapter gives special attention to hanging out that goes on in consumption spaces, and the ways in which young people negotiate the boundaries of public and private. This discussion is connected both to considering young people’s rights to the city and to evaluating urban spaces by their ‘tightness’/’looseness’. Finally, hanging out is approached as play with urban space. While hanging out, young people ‘actively do nothing’ and are thus open to changes of direction, to encounters with people and places. They creatively carve out space away from the adult gaze and, though often only momentarily, make ‘loose spaces’. Hanging out thus adds to cultivating lively, mixed-use cities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGeographies of Children and Young People, Volume 9 : Play, Recreation, Health and Well Being
    EditorsBethan Evans, John Horton, Tracey Skelton
    Number of pages18
    Place of PublicationSingapore
    Publication date2015
    ISBN (Electronic)978-981-4585-96-5
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

    Fields of Science

    • 5141 Sociology

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