UBC Theses and Dissertations
Children’s conceptions of spatial appropriation : an aspect of social knowledge Svendsen, Ann Christine
The purpose of this exploratory study was 1) to identify and illustrate a number of components of a scheme of interpretation used by children to comprehend and act according to social rules and conventions governing the appropriation of space, and 2) to develop and test a model for examining qualitative differences in such a scheme of interpretation, within and between various age groups. The model was based on two propositions: first that knowledge of the social structure and the social organization of space are two components of a scheme of interpretation, and second that such a scheme of interpretation will become more abstract, differentiated, and integrated with age. In the final study fifteen children were interviewed, including ten six year olds and five twelve and thirteen year olds. The interview focussed on the children's awareness of and justifications for social rules and conventions governing access to and use of private, semi-private, and public spaces in the neighborhood, school, and home. The model was successfully used in the analysis of the children's responses. Various aspects of their conceptions of the social structure and the social organization of space were explored. Their responses were also classified according to four levels posited in the model. It was found that most of the six year olds had an undifferentiated and concrete scheme of interpretation. They were aware of context-specific rules and conventions. When asked to explain or justify the rules they typically referred to the physical or social characteristics of the setting. By twelve or thirteen years of age the children had developed a more abstract, differentiated, and integrated scheme of interpretation. They often referred to concepts such as power or ownership to explain or justify the ability of various individuals to appropriate space. Thus, the results of this study suggest that an understanding of spatial appropriation involves not simply internalizing a 'catalogue' of social rules and conventions, but rather constructing a more complex scheme of interpretation consisting of knowledge of 1) the social structure, 2) the social organization of space, and 3) the relations between them.
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