Guest editorial: Political geographies of children and young people

Chris Philo, Fiona M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to introduce the present Special Issue of Space & Polity tackling the political geographies of children and young people. Historically given scant attention by the sub-discipline, since children and young people appear to have little active influence on the workings of states, nations, geopolitics and the like, there are now small signs of how and why political geographers might look anew at the experiences and contributions of this population cohort. An empirical vignette, based on letters written by children and young people to Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great Depression, is deployed to develop this claim. Contrasts are then drawn between political geographies of children and young people that are 'adult-centred' and those that are 'child-centred', as related to claims about the distinctions and connections between 'macro-politics' and 'micro-politics'. It is suggested that, notwithstanding the exciting insights to be derived from child-centred approaches, the situation should not be a matter of privileging these over adult-centred approaches. Indeed, it is argued that there are dangers in going down such a route and of thereby collapsing 'the political' into 'the personal', thus missing what is distinctively political about the geographies needing to be researched and written. Following a brief excursion into debates about the supposed political apathy of (post) modern children and young people, the paper then introduces the other contributions to the Special Issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-115
Number of pages17
JournalSpace and Polity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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