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The Child and the City: Introductory Notes

Marie-Soleil Cloutier, Juan Torres

The relationship between the child and the city has been arousing growing interest amongst practitioners and research workers across the world. The present introduction is intended to contextualize contemporary analysis, placing it at the confluence of urban change and new approaches to representations of childhood. What emerge more especially are the connections between the various theoretical standpoints as to the relationship between the individual and the environment, and the way in which the child is viewed. Thus, the passivity of the individual which is implicit in a disjunctive approach calls up the determinist concept of childhood, where the main concern is the impact of the city on a “defenseless” population. The conjunctive approach, on the other hand, views the child as a dynamic player and invites the researcher and the practitioner to explore the city with the child’s eyes. This change of perspective leads them to attempt to understand and work with children to shape their environment. Through a short presentation of the various articles which make up this number, the authors provide an overview of the main issues that emerge from studies which include the mobility of primary school children as seen by the town planner, the psychologist’s view of the socialization of traffic risk as it affects the child pedestrian, the consideration to be given to adolescents when designing or developing urban neighbourhoods, the survival strategies practiced by young itinerant workers in the urban surroundings of a developing country, and the impact of traffic “pacifying” measures on children in a context of urban geography.