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Urban Communication Reader IV

Cities as Communicative Change Agents


Edited By erin daina mcclellan, Yongjun Shin and Curry Chandler

Today, the world is facing climate change, wealth inequality, housing crises, food shortages, mass migration, and now a global health pandemic. Cities are at the heart of both these problems and their solutions. Urban communication scholars are well-poised to examine the change initiatives that are both caused and inspired by such complex problems. This volume provides a collection of urban communication research focused on how examining change through the lens of communication provides unique processual understandings of cities as dynamic sites formed through the interplay between concrete cases and conceptual ideas. The first section, Change through Institutional Intervention, addresses how diverse societal institutions—including policy, regulation, planning, and voluntary arts—interplay with changes in our urban communities. The second section, Change in Place and through Space, explores various ways in which spaces and places are able to transform through communicative practice, specifically focusing on how space and place provide unique frames for communicating change and influencing interaction in cities. The third section, Change through Participation and Engagement, collectively draws attention to the ways that public participation and engagement are utilized in cities in ways that enhance the communication both within and about them, focusing specifically on how this happens globally in teaching and learning environments, community planning partnerships, industrial site redevelopment projects, and approaches to food sovereignty in urban agricultural initiatives.
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10. Playing Outside: The Transformation of Children’s’ Urban Play: SUSAN J. DRUCKER, HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY, U.S. & GARY GUMPERT, EMERITUS, QUEENS COLLEGE, CUNY, U.S.


10. Playing Outside: The Transformation of Children’s’ Urban Play



The nature of playing outside has radically changed—the factors are complex, but the reality is unquestionably true. Data supports the observation that the street as a creative playground has disappeared. Games have become organized, scheduled and supervised. Some explanations are apparent: increased automobile traffic, the addiction to computer games, the rise of the helicopter parent, the municipal regulation of play, the loss of community, and the parental cell phone control of children. Safety in play spaces has become a priority. Cities are stimulating, bustling, varied, lively, unpredictable, and risky. They can expose one to hazards and threats. They can simultaneously enrich and endanger. Today, the minimization of risk and need to create safe spaces, particularly to protect children from potential harm, has become paramount. This chapter will explore the patterns of urban play and the social, communicative and regulatory forces at work in the changing landscape of urban play.

Keywords: play, games, safety, regulation, children’s rights, design, recreation, risk

In 1560, the extraordinary Pieter Breugel the Elder depicted the games children played within a village in “Children’s Games.”

Physically energetic and imaginatively engaged girls and boys are everywhere in Bruegel’s busy painting. Some are using their bodies, others are playing with children and/or with toys (e.g., windmill; hoops). Here are some examples. Three boys mounted on a red fence...

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