The Life Space of the Urban Child

The Life Space of the Urban Child

Perspectives on Martha Muchow's Classic Study

History and Theory of Psychology

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ISBN: 978-1-4128-5491-7
Pages: 326
Binding: Hardcover
Publication Date: 03-02-2015
Also available as:
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The heart of this book is the translation of The Life Space of the Urban Child, written in 1935 by Martha and Hans Heinrich Muchow. Life Space provides a fresh look at children as actors and how they absorb their city environments. It uses an empirical base connected with theories about the worlds in which children live.

The first section provides historical background on Muchow’s study and the author. The second section presents the translation of the Life Space study, as well as comments from an environmental psychologist’s perspective. The third section reviews the study’s theoretical foundations, including the concept of “critical personalism,” the perspectives of phenomenology, and the notion of Umwelt (environment). The last section addresses various lines of research developed from the Life Space study, including Muchow’s work in describing children in urban environments, methodological approaches, and the significance of space in social science and educational contexts.

The manner in which Martha Muchow conducted her studies is itself of note. She obtained access to the children in their environments and combined observation with cartographies and essays produced by the children. This approach was new at the time and continues to inspire researchers today. This volume is the latest work in Transaction’s History and Theory of Psychology series.

Editorial Reviews

"This study illustrates how significantly urban space, the way it is being shaped by us, and its potential for appropriation and exploration can support or impede a child’s development. In this context, this book’s perspective on M. Muchow’s study is an important and helpful contribution to answering the question why inner city neighbourhoods become either deprived or privileged over time."

— Prof. Dr. Detlef Baum,

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Table of Contents

Series Editor’s Foreword
Observational Phenomenology in the Making: Learning
from Martha Muchow
Jaan Valsiner 

Muchow’s Marks—An Introduction
Günter Mey and Hartmut Günther 

Part I: Background

Martha Muchow and Hans Heinrich Muchow:
The Life Space of the Urban Child—The Loss and
Discovery, Connections and Requisites
Imbke Behnken and Jürgen Zinnecker 

Martha Muchow—A Life Devoted to Educational
Enlightenment and to the Scientific Foundation
of Understanding Children’s Worlds
Kurt Kreppner 

Martha Muchow’s Life Space Study in the Context of
Contemporary Childhood and Adolescent Research
Elfriede Billmann-Mahecha 

Part II: The Study

The Life Space of the Urban Child
Martha Muchow and Hans Heinrich Muchow 

An Environmental Psychologist as Translator: Some
Personal Comments on The Life Space of the Urban Child
Hartmut Günther 

Part III: Theoretical Foundations

Personalistic Undertones in The Life Space of the Urban Child
James T. Lamiell 

Applying Jakob von Uexküll’s Concept of Umwelt
to Human Experience and Development
Lauri Linask, Riin Magnus, and Kalevi Kull 

Beyond Methodological Dichotomy—Martha
Muchow’s Methodological Foundations and Their
Relation to Phenomenology
Peter Faulstich and Hannelore Faulstich-Wieland 

Part IV: Perspectives

Martha Muchow’s Contribution to Developmental
and Ecological Psychology—Children’s Places as
Contexts for Behavior and Development
Urs Fuhrer 

Martha Muchow’s Methodological Heritage—
Pioneering Qualitative Research
Günter Mey 

Children as Actors—Muchow’s Life Space Study
and Its Implications for “New” Childhood Studies
Beatrice Hungerland 

Children in the Classroom
Gerold Scholz 

Media.City.Spaces—Children’s Lifeworlds
Kristin Westphal