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Title: Learning through design : subjectivity and meaning in young people's computer game production work
Author: Pelletier, Caroline
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 8408
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis is concerned with identifying what young people learn when they make their own computer games, with learning defined as the production of subjectivity. It theorises learning and meaning-making as identical processes, and treats semiotic analyses of computer games as indicators of social relations in the sites of production. Computer game design is conceptualised as a resource with which young people position themselves within, and re-shape, such relations. I draw on two bodies of theory. Gunther Kress' social semiotics is used to theorise learning as meaning-making, and to conceptualise computer games as multimodal, serniotic objects. Judith Butler's social theory allows me to treat descriptions of semiotic objects as indicators of the performative production of subjectivity. These two theoretical frameworks are aligned methodologically with a Foucaultian approach to discourse analysis. The analysis chapters are organised to focus on the significance of different elements in the production of subjectivity. I compare principles of design in a classroom, an after-school club and young people's homes to highlight the significance of institutional context. I examine the different ways in which young people signify gender in talk, drawings and game design, to clarify the semiotic function of materiality. Processes of social affiliation and differentiation are described in one after-school club, to focus on the dynamics of one context. The thesis engages with research on digital games and learning, and makes a case for re-framing theoretically debates about the educational value of games. It is also positioned to contribute to the literature on subjectivity and new media, including educational technology. The definition of learning it puts forward makes a case for understanding learning in terms of situated social relations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available