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Children’s Discourses of Natural Spaces: Considerations for children’s Subjective Well-Being

Abstract

Based on the evidence provided in the literature, it is manifest that increased time spent in nature increases various aspects of children’s well-being. Using discourse analysis on focus group interviews with 28 children between the ages of 12 and 14 years old from three socio-economically diverse communities in the Western Cape of South Africa, the study aimed to explore how children construct and assign meaning to natural spaces. More specifically the study explored how children use specific discursive resources and repertoires to construct and assign meaning to their engagement with natural spaces, and the extent to which this influences their subjective well-being. Several pertinent discourses emerged from the participants’ accounts within four themes of: Safety and natural spaces, Appreciation for natural spaces, Degradation of Nature: Thinking environmentally, acting pro-environmentally, and Natural spaces and children’s subjective well-being. The study highlights the critical role that children’s engagement in natural spaces has on their subjective well-being, and how these benefits can be harnessed to better children’s overall quality of life.

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Notes

  1. The racial groups referred to, that is ‘Coloured’, and ‘Black’, were employed as racial categories within the Apartheid era to reinforce a segregated society, and denote those who were not afforded the same benefits as ‘Whites’. These terms are used here solely for descriptive purposes, and does not imply acknowledgement of these terms by the authors.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to express their gratitude to the National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant Number: 84779), and the core international groups of the Children’s Worlds Project (Jacobs Foundation) and the Multinational Qualitative Study on Children’s Well-being for financial and institutional support. We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor of Child Indicators Research for their valuable feedback which has substantially improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sabirah Adams.

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Adams, S., Savahl, S. Children’s Discourses of Natural Spaces: Considerations for children’s Subjective Well-Being. Child Ind Res 10, 423–446 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-016-9374-2

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Keywords

  • Children’s discursive constructions
  • Children’s subjective well-being
  • Natural spaces and places
  • Discourse analysis
  • South Africa