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Skaters and the new 'youth spaces': A more inclusive provision? Or another form of social control?

Turner, Matthew (2012) Skaters and the new 'youth spaces': A more inclusive provision? Or another form of social control? Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Recently some local governments have been replacing traditional skateparks with new youth spaces. These are intended to be more inclusive, with the inclusion of non-skate elements that cater to a diverse range of young people, not just skaters. This project seeks to examine the rationale for their construction and understand how they are being used by young people. The methodology for this investigation is to revisit the history of the provision of space for young people and the attempt by governments to redirect them out of contested public spaces to more ‘acceptable’ locations. Examples of the relationships between skaters, young people and local governments in Australia and the Western world contrast the importance of the public realm to young people with their systematic policing, surveillance, marginalisation, and exclusion in space. Skaters have been particularly targeted but have a positive contribution to make in resisting and critiquing the control of space.

The treatment of young people is set within the context of the spatial theory of Simmel, Lefebvre, Harvey, Foucault, de Certeau, Soja and Bondi. These theorists have explained that the social relations within a society influence who has a right to use space and what it can be used for. It is concluded that the construction of youth spaces by local governments are a more inclusive option than traditional skateparks. However, they will not ‘succeed’ in redirecting young people to an ‘acceptable’ space. Some youth subcultures are seeking visible places to make their own by challenging ‘normal’ use of that space and such spaces are important to the formation of individual and group identity. Skaters and young people see space, and behave in it, differently to others in the community and they should be encouraged to share the public realm with others for the vitality and creativity that they bring to them.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Northcote, Jeremy
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