Youth Culture and Society.
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Youth Culture and Society Assignment Two This project aims to investigate young peoples use of urban space in particular reference to contested spaces within the urban environment and the conflicts that can arise amongst certain sectors of the community around these contested spaces. In tackling such a large subject it is important to narrow the subject area down to be able to cope with it more thoroughly. For this subjects research shopping centres have been chosen as the contested space here due to the fact that it is a key area for youth groups to congregate in urban space. It is also an interesting area to study due to the conflicts that arise here between consumers shopping and youth groups socialising. This project will also question why these conflicts seem to arise in certain urban areas such as shopping centres. The research and investigation in this project aims to address this question. The area that the discourse is analysing here is the shopping centre and the chosen shopping centre for this study is touchwood in Solihull. This is because it is a site where youths very visibly congregate in large groups and is therefore a prime site to observe conflict between different sectors of the community. As well as this Solihull is an area that I know very well and am familiar with which therefore gives an advantage when researching and investigating the behaviour in the area. Much of the literature that is related to this subject is based around contested spaces within the urban environment and urban space and young peoples identity. When looking at the way in which young people interact with the urban environment especially in areas such as shopping centres or malls the way in which youth croups apply uses to space must be assessed.
The strongest argument is that a researcher observing a situation such as this would too radically alter the setting and subjects activity. For the subject that I am researching here namely the reasons for conflicts between Adults and Young people in the use of shopping centres it is unlikely that observation will give me the type information that I am looking for. Interviewing is a good possible choice as a research technique here as it gives information about the interviewee's feelings about the situation. It would therefore provide information into the conflicts surrounding this public space. However several problems arise when using interviews. The interviewer will inevitably have biased influences upon the subject, the validity of the data expressed to you is questionable and also getting interviewees initially can be difficult. The decision therefore was made to use textual analysis and in this case Internet message boards that surround the subject of young peoples use of urban space. These types of message boards allow people to air these opinions with little influence from external sources and without fear of comeback from others. It can therefore be seen as a good way of gaining a wide array of varied, uninfluenced opinions on the subject matter. Of course no type of research is perfect and textual analysis is no exception. By using textual analysis it means that the researcher has no control over the content and subject of what is discussed. Therefore much of the content will be of little or no relevance. It also has the disadvantage of being a rather superficial form of research. The comments made by users of the message board are all you have to base your research on.
In Solihull there a few activities for youths to take part in considering the amount of young people there are in the area. The small amount of youth clubs appears to cater for very young children, the disabled and people who wish to participate in sport. Leaving little option for the majority of youth Many issues have been highlighted and debated within this project. The project developed throughout the research from initially being based around the victimisation and marginalisation of youth in urban spaces and the conflict surrounding this area and then developing to include the causes of this marginalisation mainly due to the lack of urban space for youths to use for socialising. By researching comments made on the Internet message boards an insight was given into the conflict surrounding the area and the causes of opposition between the two groups involved. This project highlights the importance surrounding the lack of social space available to young people in the urban environment. Namely in Solihull the lack of facilities such as skate parks caused kids to hang around in the shopping centres causing a 'nuisance'. It appears therefore that if young people are not provided for in terms of urban space then they have little other choice than to socialise somewhere in the urban environment. It would be interesting to see if problems continued once a sufficient amount of urban space was provided for young people. If a problem can still be identified once social space is provided for young people in an urban environment then this problem can be dealt with. However it is hard to argue that children should not be socialising in urban space when there is little other option available to them.
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