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Conference paper, 2003

Drömmar och verkligeht i stadens utkant

Berglund, Ulla


Dreams and Reality in the Periphery – Growing up in an East European City Growing up on the outskirts of an East European city means being in transition in several respects. The whole society as well as the place itself is changing from a socialistic regime and turning to democracy in politics and to private ownership within a growing market economy. In most cases this situation also means being poor in a world over flown with merchandise and with the western life style everywhere around in advertisement and media. Still, old values are alive within the families and also affect the children. These are values that have survived the soviet time mixed with some picked up during that era. The affection for the green nature seems to be even more outspoken than in other Nordic countries. Being outdoors also seems to play a more prominent role in the everyday life here where few children have a room of their own or private access to a computer, and most families seldom can by more home entertainment than what comes out of the TV set. As living standard is growing, though, computers seem to enter into more and more homes. The place of my ethnographic study is the district of Mezciems in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Visiting Riga and Mezciems observing and talking too the local people involve a special experience of simultaneously being in different times and in different places. This is an expression of the time-space compression visible everywhere and very palpable in places of fast transition. It means huge problems for the adults, but to the 10 to 12 years old children, which were the main target of my study, it mostly seems to mean hope. Maybe poor today but full of confidence in the future, is one way of characterising the children’s attitude. This paper concludes some of the results of a study conducted over a nearly four years period (1998-2001). We can see how the children tend to look upon themselves as global citizens and show a clear consumerist attitude. We can also observe a frequent feeling for nature, country and neighbourhood. Most children seem to want both “Sony and soil” (Robins 1997). The results also reflect the differences of the Latvian speaking population from the Russian speakers, who in some respect could be viewed as living in two separate social rooms


children; city periphery; Eastern Europe; outdoor environment

Published in


Byen i barnehöjde

Authors' information

Berglund, Ulla
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Economics and Business
Social Sciences

URI (permanent link to this page)