Citizenship & Voice

This theme gathers together research concerned with children and young people’s contributions and enjoyment of civic life, and their participation in matters that affect them. This includes their participation in academic research and so this theme also provides a hub for our activity on the methodologies of researching children and young people.
  • Theorizations of children and YP’s citizenship
  • Children and YP’s identities (gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, religion, class) and the intersection with citizenship
  • Children and young people’s engagement in the arts
  • Children's literature
  • Children and young people as political and legal actors
  • Children and young people’s relationship with the state
  • Children’s and young people’s involvement in science
  • Children and young people and their use of public space (including planning)
  • Methodological issues

Example of Activity

Young people’s experiences of discrimination, the ways in which they are, or are not, mistaken for being Muslim

Professor Peter Hopkins (GPS) is currently working on a three year (2013-2016) AHRC funded project with colleagues from Edinburgh (Rowena Arshad) and St Andrews (Gurchathen Sanghera) and PDRA Kate Botterill, examining the experiences of young people growing up in urban, suburban and rural Scotland.  Specifically, the project explores young people’s experiences of discrimination, the ways in which they are, or are not, mistaken for being Muslim (and so experience Islamophobia as a result), and their perceptions about everyday geopolitics (a term used to refer to the ways in which international, national, state and local political issues shape, and are shaped by, people’s everyday lives in different contexts). 

'The making of the geopolitical citizen’: the case of the Falklands/Malvinas – Early Career Fellowship funded by the Leverhulme Trust

This three year (2013-2016) research project undertaken by Professor Matt Benwell (GPS) investigates the ways in which young people from Argentina, the Falkland Islands and the UK learn about and engage with everyday geopolitical discourses of the nation-state. Its focus is the intractable territorial dispute over the status of the Falkland Islands or Islas Malvinas. The research is exploring how young people learn about the geopolitics of these contested territories and their perspectives on the ongoing sovereignty dispute. It addresses key issues set to characterise global geopolitics in the 21st century such as the status of post-colonial territories and access to resource-rich polar regions.

'Children, young people and critical geopolitics' - Book being published by Ashgate

Young people, and in particular children, have typically been marginalised in geopolitical research, positioned as too young to understand or relate to the adult-dominated world of international relations. Integrating current debates in critical geopolitics and political geography with research in children’s geographies, childhood studies and youth research, this book sets out an agenda for the field of children’s and young people’s critical geopolitics. It considers diverse practices such as play, activism, media consumption and diplomacy to show how children’s and young people’s lives relate to wider regional and global geopolitical processes.

Engaging with contemporary concepts in human geography including ludic geopolitics, affect, emotional geographies, intergenerationality, creative diplomacy, popular geopolitics and citizenship, the authors draw on geopolitical research with children and young people from Europe, Asia, Australasia, Africa and the Americas. The chapters highlight the ways in which young people can be enrolled, ignored, dismissed, empowered and represented by the state for geopolitical ends. Notwithstanding this state power, the research presented also shows how young people have agency and make decisions about their lives which are influenced by wider geopolitical processes. The focus on the lives of children and young people problematises and extends what it is we think of when considering ‘the geopolitical’ which enriches as well as advances critical geopolitical enquiry and deserves to be taken seriously by political geographies more broadly.

Matt Benwell is Lecturer in Human Geography and Peter Hopkins is Professor of Social Geography, both in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University, UK.

Research Group: Children’s Cultures, Past and Present 

This is a collaboration between academics across Sociology, Law, English, History, Archaeology, Classics and Theatre, headed by Dr April Pudsey. The research group's first meeting will explore questions and methodological approaches to children’s own agency in shaping their identities and cultures. The meetings aim to bring together theories and models drawn from modern childhood studies and sociology (children’s agency, socialization and de-centralized childhoods), with the cultural depth of the study of children in the past, in order to understand childhood experience and agency across contemporary and past societies. The group will examine how we might understand what factors invite and instigate change in how children live(d) their lives, engage(d) with their environment, and form(ed) their own cultures. Topics for discussion include: children as a 'subaltern' group in their society; children's agency in their own 'socialization'; children's peer cultures; use and ownership of space and environment; roles in production; play and entertainment; sexuality and gender identity; subversion of 'childhood' norms; engagement with bodies and cognitive abilities; coping with trauma or conflict.