Young people, public space and citizenship

Dee, Michael John (2008) Young people, public space and citizenship. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The use of public space by young people raises issues in Australia and elsewhere in the world. Contests occur between the disparate players seeking a stake in the use and definition of public space. State and local government, young people, the security industry, shop owners, community groups and property developers are some of the major players. In a context of monitoring and control procedures, young people's use of public space is often viewed as a threat to social order (Loader 1996, Crane and Dee 2001, White 1998).

This study considers critical intersections between young people and the control of public space. It employs an analysis of relevant youth, citizenship and public space theories. Particular attention focuses on the concepts of political, civil and social citizenship formulated by the British sociologist T.H. Marshall, whose key text Citizenship and Social Class (1950), is still relevant (see Yeatman 1994, France 1997, Mann 1995, Manning and Ryan 2004).

Grounded Theory methodology as discussed by Glaser and Strauss (1967) is utilised in the surveying of high school students in Brisbane and Logan to discover their perceptions of a range of public space and citizenship issues. The overall aim of this study is to consider if a connection exists between young people, public space and citizenship and if the use of public space by young people may be understood from a broad rights perspective and the concept of social citizenship, as discussed by Marshall (1950).

The self completion survey employed in this study asked 1122 high school students a number of questions about their local community, safety at school, the meaning to them of the word citizenship and their thoughts about CCTV.

The key findings were:

  • Some communities are less concerned about young people, than others;

  • Most schools are safe, but a number are not. Teachers contribute to student's feelings of safety at school;

  • The word citizenship carries important meanings for most young people around belonging, community and taking part in community life;

  • CCTV surveillance does not necessarily make young people feel safe in using public space;

  • Most young people feel negatively stereotyped by their community;

  • Most local areas do not have enough youth facilities

The survey data is discussed further throughout the study along with citizenship and public space issues.

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ID Code: 16664
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Tomlinson, John & Crane, Philip
Keywords: children, young people, public space, rights, contested, social, civil, political citizenships, futurity, surveillance, participation, CCTV, grounded theory
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Department: QUT Carseldine
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Michael John Dee
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:07
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:50

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