Changing worlds: the microgeographies of young teenagers

Hugh Matthews, Melanie Limb, Barry Percy-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


Few geographical studies have explicitly examined the place use and place behaviour of young teengers, especially within the UK. In this article we report on a survey of a group of 13 year olds, living in a socially and economically deprived neighbourhood in Midland England. Attention focuses on the 'fourth environment', that is how these teenagers come into contact with a range of everyday places beyond their home, school and playground. For each individual, the sum of this relationship constitutes a microgeography, which when grouped together provides a spatio-temporal map of experience. The results suggest four recurrent themes, which we present as important aspects of the microgeography of this group of teenagers. We label these as: worlds apart; emblems of differences; special places; and landscapes of powerlessness. The environments of teenagers are not just appendages of the adult world, but are special places, crated by themselves and invested with their own values. We argue that teenagers are not adults in waiting but are active cultural producers in their own right. When discussing the results we draw upon research and concepts in cognate disciplines to provide additional insights into teenagers' microgeographies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-202
Number of pages10
JournalTijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1998
Externally publishedYes


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