Reaching critical mass? Theory, politics, and the culture of debate in children's geographies

Author: Vanderbeck, Robert M

Source: Area, Volume 40, Number 3, September 2008 , pp. 393-400(8)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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A small but growing number of voices have begun to raise questions about the current direction of children's geographies as a subfield and its status within the wider discipline. This article intervenes in these emerging discussions to examine the status of debate itself within children's geographies. I argue that children's geographies over the past decade has operated primarily in a consensus-based mode, with a number of potential tensions and differences between practitioners masked as a result. I develop the example of notions of children's competent social agency, a core theoretical assumption that is rarely interrogated in much depth. In closing, I pose questions regarding several contemporary political issues concerning children's agency about which geographers have had surprisingly little to say. I suggest that explicitly addressing some of these vexing issues would contribute to a richer state of debate within children's geographies.

Keywords: agency; childhood; children's geographies; youth

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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