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Lecture 10

HUMA 1970 Lecture 10: children studies lecture 2014.docx

Course Code
HUMA 1970
Andrea Sterk

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Play 01/14/2014
What is play?
Imagination of fun
Something that children experience
Distinctive marker of childhood
A way to learn
A mode of development (exercise, physically challenging, social and emotional)
A means to understand self and social context (learn appropriate behavior in a social context, ex
playing house)
Learn about yourself through play
Groos-evolutionary theory of play, children play to learn complex skills to reach adult maturity
Johan Huizinga- a decline in civilization observed through the study of play (Homo Ludens- Man the
player-1938) play is not necessarily the opposite of serious. “when does play ever stop?” are we always
acting in society?
Piaget- Play stages- Opportunity for children to practice new and emerging skills
Vygotsky- Play as a tool to extend skills a child already has. We play within are cultural context, play
makes sense where you are.
Freud-place for children to enact difficult situations in order to control them. A place for children to deal
with things they couldn’t handle emotionally (psychoanalysis) fulfill adult roles that are not fulfilled until
their later life
G.H Mead- play as an opportunity to develop a sense of self, reflexive sense of how they are seen by
others, in order to know how you see yourself
Gregory Bateson (1904-1980)
Play as communication
Metacommunication needed for play to take place (the way that we communicate with people that isn’t
necessarily verbal)

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“These actions in which we now engage and do not denote what those actions for which they stand
would denote”
Types of development through play
Cognitive/linguistic/intellectual development
Communicative development (meta linguistic communicative)
The culture of play
Peter and Iona Opie
Study of children’s expressive cultures
Folklore-study of custom’s, ballads and proverbs
First hand observations of children’s cultures on the playground
Addressed peoples concerns about the decline in children’s games and play
The Lore and Language of school children (1959)
Hand clapping games = cognitive, linguistic development, memorization, patience, focus, inclusion and
Commercialization of play
Debate about toys and the nature of play
Increasing commodification of childhood and commercialization of children’s culture
Also commercialization of play spaces as concerns are raised about “free” play outside
Inclusion and exclusion in play
Barrie Thorne’s notion of border work
Separation of gender, glass and race (amongst others) can be created, sustained

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How children’s culture is connected to consumer culture
Christmas as a culturally event, one of the core pieces of Christmas is buying presents for children
Children have economic activities, such as asking parents for things, extra curricular activities,
Children have disposable income, they don’t have bills to pay or food to buy
The economy knows children spend their money only on toys, candy, etc
Children begin to have agency about what products parents buy
The meanings and categories of childhood and youth are socially constructed
Value is created from production (cheaper production means more profit)
Value is created from consumption, people need to buy it, more demand means more profit
Children fit in to capitalism in two ways: they preform (cheap) labor, and they buy goods
Capitalism always needs to find new markets
1920s-1930s- the toddler
retail industry that started to put the toddler as a separate age, and became a big market
1950s-1960s-the teenager
baby boomers now do not need to go to work to 14-15, finish school and go to work, attracting the
market to appeal to them because they can purchase things with their own money
1980s-1990s- the tween
2010s-2020s-the pretween?
Childhood over the 20th century gets niched into smaller network segments
Smaller segments creates obsolescence, you get rid of something not because it is damaged but
because it becomes out of date
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