Thinking through Urban Place, Space and Locality in Youth Research
The interdisciplinary “spatial turn” (and “mobilities turn”) within sociology and the social sciences and humanities has given rise to renewed interest in the conceptual frameworks and theorisation of place, space and locality (localities). In contemporary child (childhood) and youth research, immediate place, space and localities are powerful frameworks for understanding and examining young people’s everyday lives, realities, biographies as well as meaning making, construction of their identities and sense of belonging or exclusion. The emplaced hierarchies, inequalities, power relations and differentiations—in combination with innate, biographical, proximal and distal influences—will shape and direct young people’s interactions, activities and networks within and across different places, spaces and localities. There remains a lacuna regarding such research in developing countries, including South Africa post-1994. This paper examines how and why the concepts of space, place, and locality are of significance and contribute to an understanding of urban young people’s diverse everyday lives, challenges, needs and experiences. This paper focuses, firstly, on a discussion of the contested, conflicting and varying constructions of the concepts place, space and locality. Secondly, there is a discussion on some of the themes, debates and discourses shaping knowledge production in this area.
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