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Ludic – or playful – geopolitics

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Play is often considered inferior to the more ‘serious’ enterprises of work, endeavour and effort; at best, a rehearsal for adult life. In this chapter, we want to suggest otherwise; to take play, and those who play, more seriously. We do this with specific reference to toys, and build our argument in the following way. First, after a short literature review, we argue that toys need to be situated within specific geopolitical contexts; our focus is upon the history of the ‘action figure’ toy in both Britain and the U.S. In the second section, we show that while such discursive approaches are useful in addressing some of the broader aspects of the ludic, they form only part of the picture. In addition, we need to think more closely about how critical accounts of geopolitics might actually engage with children and children’s play. Potential ways that this might be achieved are discussed, with an attendant discussion of the challenges inherent in developing more affective and non-representational accounts of children’s play. The chapter finishes by offering a set of conclusions and suggestions for future research. In short, we contend that the ‘ludic’ is both under-theorised to date and increasingly important in a world where leisure time, and what children do with it, is becoming more and more complex (Livingstone, 2002). Social media and computer games, in conjunction with the continuing popularity of more traditional toys, such as action figures, are all part of a global toy industry that is now worth some $30 billion (Clark, 2007).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildren, young people and critical geopolitics
EditorsMatthew Benwell, Peter Hopkins
PublisherAshgate Publishing Limited
ISBN (Print)9781472444936
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2016

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