"My kids aren't allowed to go there": parental perspectives on teenage spaces of leisure in a Copenhagen neighborhood
Marianne Holm Pedersen
(Danish Folklore Archives at the Royal Danish Library)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how parents in a Copenhagen neighborhood perceive of their teenage children’s leisure activities in urban spaces such as shopping malls, the streets of the neighborhood, and voluntary associations.
Paper long abstract:
Young people's movements in public space are often related to their generational positions. Whereas children's institutions or playgrounds are sites that are associated with children, public spaces such as streets or shopping malls are sites where teenagers may be left to roam on their own and thus be outside of adult control. In this way, places and activities can be deemed morally proper or improper. Yet, perceptions of what is a proper place may change across time or differ and be negotiated across relations of e.g. generation, social class, ethnicity, and gender. This paper explores how parents in a Copenhagen neighborhood perceive of their teenage children's leisure activities in different urban spaces. More specifically, it investigates the different meanings and perceptions of sociality that parents attribute to sites such as shopping malls, the streets of the neighborhood, and voluntary associations. The paper shows how these spaces become associated with different norms for appropriate and non-appropriate behavior that is attributed not only to the young people, but also other parents. Due to the more or less valued kinds of sociality associated with different sites, a hierarchy of places evolves. In this way, studying young people's leisure activities in public spaces may also shed light on ideas about the good life for youth, perceptions of parenthood and how these norms and ideas interrelate with conceptualizations of space in the city.
Ethnographies of urban public spaces