Constructing the Places of Young People in Public Space: Conflict, Belonging and Identity

Debra Gray, Rachel Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building on the growing discursive approach to people–place relations, we examine how young people negotiate people–place tensions and relations, and how they establish their everyday sense of place in contemporary public spaces. Facilitated by the use of Collaborative Spatial Mapping, analysis of focus group data from 51 young people focuses on three aspects of participants’ talk about the places that make up their everyday lives: appropriation of micro-geographical spaces, the construction of autobiographical insideness and the mobilization of shared socio-spatial histories. Our analysis illustrates young people's responses to a broader problematic of being ‘troublesome’ in public spaces, demonstrating how they construct a deep-rooted attachment to, and sense of themselves as located members within, such spaces. We argue that place appropriation and autobiographical insideness are important concepts for understanding the practice of citizenship by young people, and how such practice is embedded in wider political processes of spatial conflict and exclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1400-1417
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2022


  • autobiographical insideness
  • citizenship
  • collaborative mapping
  • place appropriation
  • place identity
  • young people

Cite this