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The restrictions many parents place on children's spatial freedoms are often tied to concerns about `urban risk'. Concurrently, those children afforded greater spatial autonomy are often represented as threatening and disruptive to local social interaction. Little research has, however, explored the implications of children's spatial freedoms on social cohesion. Framed by the concept of social capital, this paper examines the role children play in developing the kinds of connection and relationship that build social networks, trust and neighbourliness. Focusing on children's lives in three inner-city and two suburban locations in England, the paper explores neighbourhood social capital in relation to two `critical interactions': first, between social policy, parenting values and children's autonomy and, secondly, between children's and parents' local engagement.

Original publication




Journal article


Urban Studies


SAGE Publications

Publication Date





629 - 643