The impact of neighbourhood-level factors on children's everyday lives, well-being and identity: a qualitative study of children living in ocean view, Cape Town

Journal Article


Journal Title

Social Dynamics

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Taylor & Francis


University of Cape Town

Drawing on qualitative data generated over fifteen months by children aged six to eighteen, this article explores the ways in which neighbourhood and community spaces of Ocean View impact on the lives of children living there. The article draws particular attention to the way in which the legacy of Ocean View's particular socio-political history continues to impact on children, through the interaction of physical, social and economic features which limit their everyday lives to the spaces and people within Ocean View. This affects children's access to resources, hampers integration, and impacts on their selfand collective-efficacy. Children's individual preferences, skills and personalities are shown to affect how they cope with difficulties and respond to available opportunities and supports. The article?draws attention to how children generate their social environment and attach meaning to physical spaces around them, emphasising the variety and creativity of the tactics they employ to negotiate their everyday environments. Finally the article argues that by failing to recognise the specific and dynamic processes in which children's social networks are embedded, traditional approaches to understanding neighbourhood effects(such as social capital and social disorganisation theories) over-simplify and over-generalise the operation of social dynamics. I argue for moving away from focussing on the impact of discrete neighbourhood features to a focus on the environmental processes that benefit children. This requires a broader approach to researching 'neighbourhood effects' which encompasses children's perceptions and agency, internal and external power dynamics, and the interaction of sociopolitical, physical, and economic aspects of children's environments.