Informal play areas : children’s opportunities to play in the poor urban context of Dhaka city
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- Institutt for geografi 
Dhaka city used to have an image of greenery, even few decades ago, but over the years it has become one of the most polluted and densely populated cities in the world and recently has been marked as one of the worst cities to live in. Due to rapid increase of population, congestion, pollution, migration, rapid urbanization and unplanned development, Dhaka city has become a concrete jungle which lacks adequate facilities for outdoor play and recreation. As a response to this situation, this research looks into everyday life of children in relation to their play opportunities in such urban contexts. In this study, childhood is understood as a social construction and it considers that children are worthy to be studied in their own rights. Using different theoretical concepts and Henri Lefebvre’s production of space theory as conceptual framework, this research provides deep insights into where and how the children play, children’s and parent’s perceptions, and professionals’ opinions regarding play areas and children’s lived experience regarding their play opportunities. Findings of this study confirm that children from urban middle income families are marginalized in Dhaka city, especially in relation to play opportunities even though they may be better off in many aspects of their life (e.g. economic solvency). Children from middle income family have made a culture of playing on the street, garage, roof and empty construction sites where constant negotiations with residents, compromising their game rules, facing structural limitations and having peers from same alleys are parts of their everyday play culture. Children are in a squeezing situation between the parent’s demands of making better academic results and their own growing up and well-being. The lived experience of poor environmental and social conditions, and limited accessibility of playgrounds put children in a more marginalized situation in relation to their play opportunities. Professionals’ views focus more on the administrative and bureaucratic challenges of maintaining play areas from illegal occupation by the investors.