Profile of Miss Kirsten Owen The University of Sheffield

Kirsten Owen

General research interests

The perception of young people within the built environment and how they are considered within planning policy, specially with relation to social mix policy.

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

Young People and ‘Social Mix’: A study of 10 to 15 year olds and the shaping of space in a mixed tenure residential development

PhD Abstract

Mixed tenure neighbourhoods are increasingly being seen as an ideal for new residential development for a number of reasons. Part of the rationale for promoting mixed tenure neighbourhoods is that housing areas will be developed which contain a ‘social mix’, and in doing so avoiding the concentration of poor households in one area. As a result it is thought that problems associated with social exclusion will be, to some extent, addressed and avoided. In addition to supporting the development of mixed tenure, policy also requests the provision of a variety of housing types in order to attract a diversity of households including families. The presence of young people is often considered to initiate cross-tenure social interaction, not only through their own independent agency but also by initiating adult interaction through children focused activities. Alongside this, ‘well-designed’ public spaces in neighbourhoods are thought to support social interaction amongst residents. With this in mind, the research aims to explore the lived experiences of ‘social mix’ by specifically examining the experiences, and use of space, of young people living in mixed tenure neighbourhoods. In doing this, I propose to develop an interpretative account of a mixed tenure residential area, adopting a material-immaterial perspective. This perspective has been chosen as I believe it will help to facilitate an account which focuses on both human agency and the physical environment of a mixed tenure area. In developing this account I use a combination of research methods; participant observation, participatory visual techniques, interviewing and document analysis.