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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

‘You can be outside a lot': independent mobility and agency among children in a suburban community in Sweden

Wales, Mark; Mårtensson, Fredrika; Jansson, Märit


The global decline of children's independent mobility is well documented. Whilst the Nordic countries are no exception, a previous study discovered high levels of independent mobility in a suburban community in the south of Sweden (Johansson, M., A. Raustorp, F. Martensson, C. Boldemann, C. Sternudd, and M. Kylin. 2011. "Attitudal Antecedents of Children's Sustainable Everyday Mobility."Transport and Health Issues: Studies on Mobility and Transport Research3: 55-68). The current study investigates the everyday outdoor lives of children in this community to shed light on the mechanisms contributing to the children's independent mobility. Sixteen children aged 10-11 years old participated in place mapping and child-led walks. The results describe how their independent mobility grows from their joint commitment to play and socialise in a collective process that builds on their experiences of the local environment to form a shared patchwork of people, places and practices that meets their mutual needs. In light of plans for new development in the area, relational arrangements supporting children's agency are uncovered and independent mobility is confirmed as an important indicator of child-friendliness in planning.


Children's play; place attachment; urban planning; health promotion; sense of community

Published in

Children's Geographies
2021, Volume: 19, number: 2, pages: 184-196