ERG SES C 04, Interactive Poster Session
Interactive Poster Session
Modern theories of childhood delineate childhood from two theoretical perspectives—from an institutional and socially conceptualized and from a subjective and action related perspective. The first theory raises the question of how childhood can be described in the interdependent relationship between adults and other generations. In contrast, the second theory emphasizes children as autonomous persons. Both can be described with spatial references, but those have not yet been empirically investigated. Children co- and recreate their spaces and by doing so, they become active creators of their own living environment, which always in relation to the world of adults.
Zinnecker (2000) describes childhood as a European concept of a pedagogical moratorium. This moratorium implies the exemption of activities, which are usually restricted to adults – for example gainful work, socio-biological reproduction, and the compliance with moral conventions. This moratorium is attributed with special institutions, which can be merged into a so called ‚pedagogical province‘ (pädagogische Provinz). Zinnecker describes this as a segment of space and purpose in which generational relations can be separately developed from the dominant community of adults. These are for example kindergartens, playgrounds and all kinds of schools for children. In this theory, children are not just recipients of pedagogical activities within this province, but rather co-constructors of a pedagogical moratorium. At the same time, children obviously hinge on these special institutions, as Treeß (2002) notes. She presumes that the absence of children in the public space hinders the development of a so called ‘local identity‘ (Ortsidentität), which is understood as familiarity, handling security and the assumption of responsibility.
While the theory of childhood as a pedagogical moratorium concentrates on children and their spatial relations within the scope of the generational system, the theory of children as social actors focuses on their autonomy and self-reliance. Honig (1999), for example, writes about the lifestyle of children as being independent: They organize their social relations autonomously and contribute actively to their social and personal development. An important view in this theory is that children form and constitute their living environment regardless of their relationship with adults and their stage of living is no longer seen as a transitional period which leads to adulthood (Baader & Sager 2010). We know since the 1920s that children not only experience their social spaces but they also re-create and alter them autonomously (Muchow & Muchow 2012). Martha Muchow’s study “The Life Space of the Urban Child“ is a seminal work of childhood studies, which not only focus on the subjective perspective of children, but also on their spatial experiences and activities.
The present study will revive this approach by dealing with the assumption that the living environment of children is defined by many different spaces, which have a variety of individual qualities for them. It draws on the sociology of space by Martina Löw (2001) as basis for its theoretical sensibility. She defines space as relational: Since subjective acting, the dealing with one’s own living environment, takes part in social spaces, it is always affected by spatial structures. At the same time, subjective acting changes social spaces and constitutes them in a new way. Summarising subjective activity and social space complements each other. For the present study this means that space could not only be a structuring, but also a resource for the experiences and the acting of children.
This study aims to bring together both perspectives of children – childhood as a pedagogical moratorium and children as social actors – with the theory of space. In this way, a modifying theory development should be possible.
This study aims to build new theory and is exploratory in nature, given the deductive nature of the inquiry, grounded theory (GTM) (Glaser & Strauss 2010; Charmaz 2014) is used to develop theory or to re-establish and differentiate known phenomena (Glaser & Strauss 2010). The methodological framework is the constructive grounded theory, which has been developed by Charmaz (2014), to fulfil the idea that research is not independent from existing presuppositions and a theoretical framework. In this view, the researcher is a constructor of a theory and brings his or her own knowledge to the research. This knowledge has to be reflected and explicated (Aghamiri 2016). To explore how children experience their environments, this study draws on 13 interviews from children at the age of 8 to 10. They are used to display the subjective perspective of the children and to focus on their individual experiences of their social spaces. For the interviews a semi-structured interview guide was used. Every interview started with an open question to generate narrative continuity. The guide had some possible individual follow up questions to continue the interview. These questions mostly referred to the pictures, which were taken by the children before the interview. It was important to use the guide to eliminate the danger of “non speaking” of the children (Vogl 2015). During the development of the guide the principle of generating new ideas was respected: As much Openness as possible, as much structure as needed. Additionally subjective maps as well as protocols and field notes from short observations are used for the research. Three interviews are already edited by initial coding. After a first coding by hand, the software MAXQDA was used to safe the developed concepts and to allow a controllability of the empirical process. The digitally fixed codes and concepts were complemented by manually designed notes (memos) and code maps. First hypothesises and ideas for a theoretical sketch are developed and will be edited continually. Currently there is a process of emerging similar structures and connections within the interviews and between the interviews. After that there will be a phase of controlling hypothesises and theoretical sketches by adding more interviews by theoretical sampling.
The goal of the empirical process is to gain patterns of spatial experiences and processes of constitution by the children. Since the study is not finished yet, there are only preliminary hypothesises. First analyses show that the qualities of space, which children experience are characterized by the so called generational order. The children in this study take the rules and patterns from adults and make them their own. What is more there are findings in the interviews, which show, that not only the relationship between children and adults is important to experience and constitute space but also other children and young people. The children talk about Peer-Relation and social contacts which are framed by the geographical availability. Also age, ability and knowledge seem to be important manifestations of spatial experiences. At the same time the children recount the challenge to experience their own mobility within the limitations of others and to expand them individually and autonomously. In the interviews they talk about individual open spaces which they constitute and how they change and extend rules and orders from adults with this spatial acting. There seem to be a process of a concentric opening of spatial experience related to this acting, which is not geographically but socially designed.
Aghamiri, K. (2016): Das sozialpädagogische Spektakel. Eine Fallstudie sozialpädagogischer Gruppenarbeit in der Grundschule. Opladen u.a.: Budrich. Charmaz, K. (2014): Constructing Grounded Theory. 2. Auflage. Los Angeles u.a.: SAGE. Baader, M. S. & Sager, S. (2010): Die pädagogische Konstitution des Kindes als Akteur im Zuge der 68er-Bewegung. Diskurs Kindheits- und Jugendforschung (3), 255-267. Glaser B. G. & Strauss A. L. (2010): Grounded theory: Strategien qualitativer Forschung. Bern: Huber. Löw, M. (2001): Raumsoziologie. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp. Honig, M.-S. (1999): Entwurf einer Theorie der Kindheit. – Frankfurt a.M. Muchow, M. & Muchow, H. H. (2012): Der Lebensraum des Großstadtkindes. Herausgegeben von Imbke Behnken und Michael-Sebastian Honig. Weinheim, Basel: Juventa. Treeß, H. (2002): Prävention und Sozialraumorientierung. In: Schröer, W.; Struck, N.; Wulff, M.: Handbuch Kinder- und Jugendhilfe. Weinheim, München: Juventa, S. 925–943. Vogl, S. (2015): Interviews mit Kindern führen. Eine praxisorientierte Einführung. Wiesbaden: Beltz Juventa. Zinnecker, J. (2000): Kindheit und Jugend als pädagogische Moratorien. Zur Zivilisationsgeschichte der jüngeren Generation im 20. Jahrhundert. In: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 42. Beiheft.
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