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Tales of the city: a critical exploration of children’s place- related identity with reference to London.



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Hussey, Christopher 


Abstract Tales of the city: a critical exploration of children’s place-related identity with reference to London. - Christopher Stephen Michael Hussey

My thesis explores children’s relationships with place, focusing on London as a site of place identity. London is renowned for being a multicultural ‘melting pot’ and inclusive space, and a desirable place around which to orientate one’s identity. Thus, the research considers the participants’ expressions of identity in relation to the city of London as both a real place lived and experienced by those residing within the city and as represented through literature. The study offers a space for the participating children to reflect on their respective place identities, engaging with the concept of the ‘London imaginary’ that encapsulates the city as represented through word and illustration, in relation to their lives and as portrayed in selected media.

My research adopts a mixed methods case study approach that investigates two schools in Maida Vale, London, with participants of 9-11 years of age in Upper Key Stage 2. The study utilises a three-part model as part of a creative methodology to address the complexities of expression when dealing with concepts that are often perceived to be abstract, as in the case of place and identity. After an initial mind-mapping activity, the research involves children exploring maps of their locality and planning a shared walk to show areas of significance in their lives. The shared walk offers the participants an opportunity to photograph and pictorially represent places for discussion through a form of photo elicitation. Finally, the children’s responses to selected London-based picturebook texts allow for a holistic reflection on how children perceive and express their identities in relation to the city of London, as real and represented.

This multimodal interdisciplinary research examines the children’s perspectives in the context of their current city of residence, addressing the implications for their identity construction, and suggesting avenues for future research.





Whitley, David


place-related identity


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge