Power Shift: Play and Agency in Early Childhood

Childhood and Philosophy 11 (22):241-264 (2015)

Considerable ferment exists around the changing nature of children’s play and its place in contemporary childhood. Traditional perspectives on early childhood research have tended to trivialize and obscure the possibilities inherent in children’s ways of knowing. Researchers seldom ask children what play means to them. This article proffers a relatively new image of childhood, one that presents young children as collaborators in research, as competent interpreters of their lived experience. This study investigates children’s knowledge: their knowledge about what play is, how it is experienced, and its role in their lives, at school and at home. Interviews conducted with primary school students reveal how they perceive their lives in relation to the mainstream world of adults. Teachers and parents are seen as those who define, control, and sanction play. These children rely on the particularities and situatedness of everyday events to describe the meaning of play in their lives. Play emerges, to some degree, akin to a state of mind, invariably related to issues of autonomy, agency, and power.
Keywords play, agency, power, children's knowledge, children's culture, voice, school
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,160
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Children and Developed Agency.Andrew Divers - 2013 - Childhood and Philosophy 9 (18):225-244.
How Do Children Represent Pretend Play?Ori Friedman - 2013 - In M. Taylor (ed.), Oxford handbook of the development of imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 186-195.
Birth on the Playground: Boys' Experiences Playing with Gender.Jenifer Millan - 2012 - Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology 12 (sup1):1-11.
Unfinished Adults and Defective Children: On the Nature and Value of Childhood.Anca Gheaus - 2015 - Journal for Ethics and Social Philosophy 9 (1):1-21.
Critical Thinking In Kindergarten.Marit Bøe & Karin Hognestad - 2010 - Childhood and Philosophy 6 (11).


Added to PP index

Total views
9 ( #947,503 of 2,499,299 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #418,195 of 2,499,299 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes