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Title: Playing with toys: the animated geographies of children's material culture
Author: Woodyer, Tara Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 6820
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2010
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This PhD thesis develops a relational approach to the study of childhood and children. Drawing on the ecumenical approaches of non-representational theory, material culture studies and hybrid geographies, it explores the assemblages of human and nonhuman entities through which childhood comes into being. More specifically, this thesis considers the socio-material assemblages involving children and toys, principally through an ethnographic study of children's everyday practices with this particular type of object. To this end, it addresses a paucity of empirical work conducted with child consumers. To unpack how and why these (often highly commodified) objects matter to children, I address the precise contributions of toys to relational agency in terms of the creative capabilities they possess. Toys, like objects in general, motivate particular inferences, interpretations and responses. These are a function of three broadly conceived prompts to object agency: the sensual and material properties of the toy itself; and the socio-material relations in which the toy is embedded. Through a series of case studies involving cuddly toys, model aeroplanes, trading cards, Bratz fashion dolls, Harry Potter media, dollhouses and video games, I trace the various agencies of toys. This discussion of object agency is then extended through an examination of toys as technologies, which are productive in terms of the co-configuration of imaginative spaces of play in and of the everyday. In this regard, I address magical lands, miniature worlds and virtual spaces of play. By attending to the intimate, embodied ways in which toys matter to children, this thesis examines children's engagements with consumer cultures. In so doing it presents an alter-tale to contemporary debates about the demoralised character of contemporary childhoods and children.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available