Researching and Enabling Youth Geographies in the Digital and Material City: The Teencarto Project

Researching and Enabling Youth Geographies in the Digital and Material City: The Teencarto Project

Giacomo Pettenati (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy), Egidio Dansero (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy) and Alessia Calafiore (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7927-4.ch010
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This contribution presents the methodologies and the results of an action-research project called Teencarto carried out by the University of Turin and the City of Turin. The project involved more than 600 teenagers from 16 high schools, in a massive process of community mapping aiming at producing a representation of their urban geography. Data collected has been analyzed to make evident the way teenagers use the city as well as how they imagine a better city. The mapping process is based on First Life, a map-based social network, which aims at reconnecting digital and real spaces, using cartographic representations and crowdsourcing. The teenagers' geographies emerging from this large-scale mapping activity reveal the crucial role of four types of “piazza” (Italian word for square) as meeting points: real squares, green squares, commercial hybrid squares, and nightlife squares.
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Teenagers And Urban Spaces

Does a “teenagers geography” exist? The existence of adolescence or teenage, as the transition between childhood and adulthood, is a cultural construction, historically and geographically characterized (Savage, 2009).

In this context, teenagers are acknowledged as a specific social group, characterized by psychological and behavioural specificities and playing a specific role in society (Avanzini, 2012).

Among the reasons for the “invention of adolescence” in Western society (Savage, 2009), we can identify historical factors, such as the abolishment of child labor and the extension of compulsory education; cultural factors, with the social acceptance of the increased length of the period of dependence of teenagers by their parents (Berrini and Cambiaso, 1995); economic and market factors, in particular through the identification of teenagers as a consumer group particularly sensitive to marketing (Brooks, 2003).

Of course, despite some common traits, hardly teenagers can be treated as a unitary world, even within the cultures of the most economically advanced countries.The multiplicity of microcultures among teenagers is indeed one of the central themes of the sociological and cultural hub of studies on youth (Skelton and Valentine, 1998).

Adolescence is also associated with a specific spatial behavior, partly related to the affirmation of power relations, which define what are the acceptable spatial behaviors of different age groups (Massey 1998; Holloway and Valentine 2000; Holt 2011). The literature suggests though that the sociocultural and psychological characteristics of teenagers are actually translated into specific modes of frequentation, use and perception of urban spaces, which form the basis of teen geographies, distinct from general youth geographies (Weller, 2006).

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