Kids' lives in adult space and time: How home, community, school and adult work affect opportunity for teenagers in suburban Australia

Williams, Philippa; Pocock, Barbara; Bridge, Kennedy
June 2009
Health Sociology Review;Jun2009, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p79
Academic Journal
This study aimed to address significant gaps in our understanding of how teenagers live their lives within the spatial and temporal limitations imposed by an 'adult' world, and in the context of changing work and household patterns in Australia. By keeping home, community, school and parental work in equal focus it acknowledges that each of these spheres has the potential to provide resources and exert demands which will influence the opportunities available to teenagers as they transition through adolescence into adulthood. Methods: One hundred and seventy four boys and girls aged between 11 and 18 years took part in twenty two focus groups concerned with how characteristics of home, local community and parental work impact on various aspects of their lives. Teenagers were recruited from both state and private schools servicing three master planned communities and three traditional lower socioeconomic status suburbs in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland. Findings: there is a clear indication that teenagers' lives are contingent upon adult space and time. What teenagers do, how they do it, when they do it and with whom they do it sits within and sometimes buts up against, the spatial and temporal realities of their parents and other adults in their communities. While this is the case for all teenagers the outcomes vary for teenagers of different socioeconomic backgrounds and for teenagers in different age groups. These findings demonstrate that the ability of teenagers to access opportunities for social interaction, work experience, education, physical activity and independent agency depend on the amenity, mobility and adult availability characteristics of the contexts within which they live. Conclusion: How teenagers are accommodated by home, local community, school and parental work affects not only their well-being but the well-being of their family and the wider community.


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