The material culture of children's play : space, toys and the commoditization of childhood in a Greek community
This thesis is an ethnography of children's play in Palaia Phocaea of Attica Greece, with a particular focus on its material aspects: the spaces and objects of children's playful interactions with the social world. The evidence is also used to discuss various theories as to the impact of the commoditization of toys. Chapter 1 introduces the theoretical perspectives adopted throughout the thesis and the key concepts employed such as the notion of interpretive reproduction and cultural appropriation. Chapter 2 spells out the methodological problems of research with children, in order to discuss the adopted research strategies and methods. Chapter 3 provides a historical background and a summary of the changes that transformed the economy of Phocaea, as a context to children's play and its social parameters. Chapter 4 focuses on play at school, including factors beyond the school environment that influence children's play in the school playground. The main issues discussed concern the appropriation of space for the performance of children's play related projects, debates on gender separation in the school playground and questions regarding the performance of gender and age identities in the school playground of Phocaea. Chapter 5 turns to both issues of appropriation of space and its contestation in the context of neighbourhood play. The emphasis is on the construction, transformation and reproduction of social, spatial and temporal boundaries that circumscribe children's play and their relationships to adults and other children. Chapter 6 deals with children's play at home as the main site of symbolic constructions and hence with children's imaginary domains to address issues arising from the commoditization of toys and their influence upon children' play. The thesis concludes with a general discussion of materiality and play and of the commoditization of children's culture.