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The Construction and Experience of Nature: Perspectives of Urban Youths

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In this paper, we explore the ways in which young people in a highly urbanised setting experience and develop constructions of nature. We do so by using Singapore as our case study, an Asian context in which urbanisation is total (Singapore's population is totally urbanised). Based on focus group discussions, we conclude that young Singaporeans have little interest in and affinity for nature. This stems from a few factors: growing up in a highly urban environment in which contact with nature is limited; over-protective parents of two-children families who worry about the ‘dangers’ their children are exposed to when playing in natural areas; and the abundance of other recreational and entertainment options. This predisposes them to adopting the rationality of the State in privileging development priorities above conservation imperatives. We conclude by suggesting that certain activities be introduced to bring people, especially children, to nature areas so that their civic and emotional development may be enhanced.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore., Email: 2: Assistant Professor, School of Building and Real Estate, National University of Singapore, Singapore., Email: 3: Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 4: Associate Professor, School of Building and Real Estate, National University of Singapore, Singapore., Email:

Publication date: February 1, 1999

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