Families and Cities

We’re travelling up the east coast of Australia with two early career researchers to talk about families and cities.

Our first stop is Wollongong, about 70 kilometres south of Sydney with Dr Susannah Clement. Our second stop is Brisbane, about 900 kilometres north of Sydney with Dr Kate Raynor.

Susannah’s been tagging on with mothers and their children as they walk along the streets of Wollongong. She’s interested in the everyday experiences of family life in the city and how walking is experienced by families with young children. For these families, a walkable street has been design with families in mind, and this includes opportunities for care and play. Susannah suggests that a walkable street – a street with spaces of care and play – is a street where pedestrians and cars are held in tension. Thinking about streets in this way forces us to think about the role of cars in our cities, but it also opens up new spaces for, well, being a family.

Then we leave the street and head inside a high-density apartment building in Brisbane with Dr Kate Raynor. We’re talking about high-density living and families. Kate draws out the tension between the use value of the home, or how we live in and make home in a dwelling, and the exchange value of a home, or how we value a dwelling as a commodity in a housing market. Kate’s worried that new apartments are being designed and built for investors and capital gains, rather than for families and family life.


Dr Susannah Clement’s research interests can be best described as taking a material feminist approach to explore the everyday experiences of family life. Her PhD research explored how families living in Wollongong experience and make sense of their everyday walking practices. The aim of the project was to understand how and why families make time (or don’t make time) for walking in their everyday lives. The project aimed to inform work around sustainable transport use, active travel and broader debates in the child and family geography literature about everyday mobilities and family life. Some findings of my research are explored in this blog post: Getting families moving: what makes a pedestrian friendly city for families?

Dr Kate Raynor is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, working on the Transforming Housing project. This is an action research project focused on investigating strategies to increase the amount and quality of affordable housing in Melbourne. The project combines academic research with a strong emphasis on engagement with industry, government and philanthropic partners. Kate’s other research interests include urban consolidation, higher density housing and media analysis. Prior to joining the University of Melbourne she worked in digital communications, providing community engagement support for large-scale infrastructure and development projects.

Read more

From Susannah:

  • Clement & Waitt, 2018, Pram mobilities: affordances and atmospheres that assemble childhood and motherhood on-the-move, Children’s GeographiesDOI:10.1080/14733285.2018.1432849
  • Clement & Waitt, 2017, Walking, mothering and care: a sensory ethnography of journeying on-foot with children in Wollongong, Australia, Gender, Place & Culture DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1372376

From Kate:

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