The Impact of COVID-19 on Children’s Play in the Tourist City

A Case Study of a Lisbon Urban Park


  • Eunice Castro Seixas SOCIUS/CSG, ISEG, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
  • Catarina Tomás CICS.NOVA.FCSH NOVA, Portugal
  • Maria Fernandes-Jesus York St John University, UK/CIS– ISCTE, Portugal
  • Niccolò Giacchetta Independent Researcher


children, tourism, Lisbon, urban park, COVID-19


In this paper we present a case study on the informal practices of families with small children, before and after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Vasco da Gama Garden, an urban park located in the Belém neighborhood in Lisbon, Portugal, which is highly touristic, commercial and increasingly gentrified. Based on an ethnographic approach that included field observation, formal interviews and informal conversations with park frequenters, the findings presented here are discussed in terms of the relationship between the pandemic, urban public places, tourism and children’s right to the city.

Author Biographies

Eunice Castro Seixas, SOCIUS/CSG, ISEG, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Eunice Castro Seixas holds a Ph.D. in Sociology, with a specialization in “Post-Colonialisms and Global Citizenship” and a background in Health and Social Psychology. She is currently affiliated with the Research Center in Economic and Organizational Sociology (SOCIUS), Research in Social Sciences and Management (CSG), Lisbon School of Economics and Management (ISEG), Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. She is the principal investigator of the CRiCity Project, “Children and Their Right to the City: Tackling Urban Inequity through the Participatory Design of Child Friendly Cities,” funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

Catarina Tomás, CICS.NOVA.FCSH NOVA, Portugal

Catarina Tomás is a Sociologist. She has a Ph.D. in Child Studies (Sociology of Childhood) from the University of Minho and a postgraduate in Human Rights from the Law School of the University of Minho, Portugal. She is an Associate Professor at the Lisbon Higher Education School. She is a researcher at CICS.NOVA – Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences, within the Rights, Policy and Justice research group, and author of several national and international publications in the area of children's rights.

Maria Fernandes-Jesus, York St John University, UK/CIS– ISCTE, Portugal

Maria Fernandes-Jesus holds a PhD in psychology. She is a lecturer at York St John University in the UK and also an associate researcher at the Centre for Social Research and Intervention (CIS-Iscte) in Portugal. She has been particularly interested in understanding how and under which conditions young people and minority communities engage in sustained participation and collective action.

Niccolò Giacchetta, Independent Researcher

Niccolò Giacchetta is an independent researcher with a Master’s degree in Planning and Policies for Cities, Territory and Environment from IUAV University (2020), European Master: Planning and Policies for Cities, Environment and Landscape (2020). In 2019 he collaborated in the CRiCity Project, through internship in Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, Universidade de Lisboa.





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