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Publication Detail
Playground as meaning-making space: Multimodal making and re-making of meaning in the (virtual) playground
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Potter J, Cowan K
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Global Studies of Childhood
  • Status:
© The Author(s) 2020. This article takes as its starting point a recognition of play as meaning-making, and the playground as a rich and dynamic ‘meaning-makerspace’ where children draw moment-to-moment, rapidly and readily on the multiple resources available to them to make signs of their interest evident. These resources are drawn from their own lifeworlds, folkloric and site-specific imagination, transmitted game forms from the past, and their pleasure and affective response to contemporary media. The playground is, therefore, a dynamic site for making and re-making, reflecting the concept of ‘makerspace as mindset’, where creative, collaborative meaning-making occurs ceaselessly in a range of modes. To illustrate this position, we share findings from ‘Playing the Archive’, an ‘Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’ funded project exploring archives, spaces and technologies of play. Building upon the Iona and Peter Opie Archive of play from the 1950s–1960s, the project involved ethnographic research in two contemporary London primary school playgrounds, working with children aged 7–11 as co-researchers. A range of multimodal methods were used with the children to gain insights into their play, including iPads as filmmaking devices, chest-mounted GoPro cameras, voice recorders, drawings and mapping of playspaces. The research highlights that contemporary play exists not only in physical playgrounds, but increasingly in globalised ‘virtual playgrounds’ such as video games and social media. While these playworlds may at first appear separate, we identified ways in which virtual play intersects and inflects activity in the physical playground. We argue that play should therefore be seen as a series of ‘laminates’ drawing variously on media culture, folklore and the children’s everyday lived experiences, re-mixed and re-mediated inventively in the playground.
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