University of Sussex
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Like the palm of my hand: children and public space in central Athens

posted on 2023-06-21, 06:01 authored by Christos Varvantakis
Urban public spaces, just as the external physical environment in general, are well acknowledged in relevant literature as highly important for children, and yet as highly contested, regarding their accessibility and their use by children. Children’s accessibility to and perception of public space is very relevant to issues of children’s citizenship rights, and may provide the ground to raise questions as part of an ongoing, longitudinal and cross-national study into children participation in public life, the Connectors Study. In this paper I discuss some of the uses of public space that children make in central Athens, and how this may transgress both the limitations that are set forth by the schemes of urban municipal planning as well as the imagined borders between the public and private spheres. Drawing from a case study of a 10-year-old boy living in Exarcheia, I explore the mismatch between his and officials’ views of the neighborhood as well as Iason’s actual playful, creative and often transgressive relation to the public space. In addition, and since the focus is on the district of Exarcheia, where indeed strong activist and solidarity initiatives are at work, it provides a valuable opportunity for a discussion of how the issue of children’s participation is treated not only in official municipal urban planning, but also in alternative, citizen-led initiatives, and as such, allows us to consider children’s participation within wider processes of social change.


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  • Published

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Greek National Documentation Centre

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Digital proceedings of the symposium with international participation: places for learning experiences. Think, make, change

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  • Social Work and Social Care Publications

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Marianthi Liapi, Dimitris Germanos

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