Toward a green and playful city: Understanding the social and political production of children's relational wellbeing in Barcelona

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This paper examines recent urban green amenities directed toward children and families and develops a novel understanding of the ways in which children's socio-natures are made/unmade through such interventions. We employ ethnographic and archival analysis in two new parks – Poble Nou and Nou Barris – in Barcelona to examine how a particular type of children's wellbeing, what we call “relational wellbeing” is shaped through the production of green-playful-child-friendly amenities. We find that planning processes and visions, urban development goals, and neighbourhood socio-material structure moderate the effect of green-playful-child-friendly amenities on relational wellbeing by directing how these spaces are used. This finding points toward the importance – for equity concerns – of accounting for the social and political processes that generate relational wellbeing. These processes are often reflective of broader economic agendas of urban transformation designed to extract value, control space, and/or legitimize speculative urban development – while sometimes eroding local socio-material conditions – to the point of producing green spaces of privilege, exclusion and control. The connection between relational wellbeing and green-playful-child-friendly interventions highlights the importance, within the urban environmental equity literature, of reconceptualising pathways of wellbeing and health beyond questions of spatial distribution of natural areas and offers a new perspective for the development of future guidelines on green-playful-child-friendly space policies.




Pérez del Pulgar, C., Anguelovski, I., & Connolly, J. (2020). Toward a green and playful city: Understanding the social and political production of children’s relational wellbeing in Barcelona. Cities, 96.

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