Children’s use of playgrounds. Limiting children’s agency by parental choices

Miriam K. Damrow


Children and their families often use free and public playgrounds as a means and a tool for outdoor play, social interaction and a safe place and space for experiences. The mostly and widely shared assumption that the use and visit of a (particular) playground is up to the respective child cannot be confirmed by this study’s results. The results of this study show that parents in Italy and Germany intervene where the social experience of their children is concerned, in particular, where different cultures are tangled. Parental intervention occurred as ethnic and/or national segregation by time and space in Italy and Germany. Austrian parents showed a different behaviour pattern. 


Playground, children’s agency, parental choices, ethnic and national segregation

Full Text:



Acker, J. (2006). Inequality regimes gender, class and race in organizations. Gender & Society, 20(4), 441-464.

Ackers, H.L. (1993). Racism, sexuality and the process of ethnographic research. In D. Hobbs & T. May (Eds.), Interpreting the field. Accounts of ethnography (pp. 209-239). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Amann, K. & Hirschauer, S. (1997). Die Befremdung der eigenen Kultur. Ein Programm. In K. Amann & S. Hirschauer (Eds.), Die Befremdung der eigenen Kultur. Zur ethnografischen Herausforderung soziologischer Empirie (pp. 7-52). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Becker, G. S. (1993). Human capital: a theoretical and empirical analysis, with special reference to education. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Behnken, I. & Zinnecker, J. (2001). Neue Kindheitsfor-schung ohne eine Perspektive der Kinder? In M. Fölling-Albers, S. Richter, H. Brügelmann, & A. Speck-Hamdan (Eds.), Jahrbuch Grundschule III: Kind-heitsforschung – Forschung zum Sachunterricht. Fra-gen der Praxis – Befunde der Forschung (pp. 52-55). Frankfurt: Grundschulverband, Arbeitskreis Grundschule e.V.

Benhabib, S. (1999). Civil society and the politics of identity and difference in a global context. In N. J. Smelser & J.C. Alexander (Eds.), Diversity and its discontents. Cultural conflict and common ground in contemporary American society (pp. 293-312). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Boonzajer Flaes, S. A. M., Chinapaw, M. J. M., Koolhaas, C. M., van Mechelen, W., & Verhagen, E. A. L. M. (2016). More children more active: Tailored playgrounds positively affect physical activity levels amongst youth. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 19(3), 250-254.

Bowleg, L., Lucas, K.J., & Tschann, J.M. (2004). ’The ball was always in his court’: an explanatory analysis of relationship scripts, sexual scripts, and condom use among African American women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28(1), 70-82.

Brett, A., Moore, R.C., & Provenzo, E.F. (1993). The complete playground book. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

Brooker, L. (2017). Learning to play or playing to learn? Children’s participation in the cultures of homes and settings. In G. Goodliff, N. Canning, J. Parry, & L. Miller (Eds.), Young Children’s Play and Creativity: Multiple Voices (pp. 14-25). London: Taylor and Francis.

Ciabattari, T. (2017). Sociology of families. Change, continuity and diversity. LA: Sage.

Coffey, A. (2002). “Ethnography and Self: reflections and representations!. In T. May (Ed.), Qualitative research in action (pp. 313-331). London: Sage.

Edney, J.J. (1981). Paradoxes on the commons: scarcity and the problem of equality. Journal of Community Psychology 9, 3-34.

Essed, P. & Goldberg, D.T. (2006). Cloning Cultures: the social injustices of sameness. In C.M. Koggel (Ed.), Human diversity and equality (pp. 43-54). Peterborough: Broadview Press.

Friebertshaeuser, B. & Panagiotopoulou, A. (2013). Ethnografische Feldforschung. In B. Friebertshaeuser, A. Langer & A. Prengel (Eds.), Handbuch Qualitative Forschungsmethoden in der Erziehungswissenschaft (pp. 301-322). Weinheim et al.: Beltz Juventa.

Fritzsche, B. (2015). Praxeologische Perspektiven auf die Verzahnung von “ doing difference” und “doing pedagogy” im Unterricht. In J. Budde, N. Blasse, A. Bossen, & G. Rißler (Eds.), Heterogenitätsforschung. Empirische und theoretische Perspektiven (pp. 165-192). Weinheim et al.: Beltz Juventa.

Garrick, R. (2009). Playing outdoors in the early years. Continuum: London.

Holvino, E. (2010). ’I think it’s a cultural thing and a woman thing’. Cultural scripts in Latinas’ careers. CGO Insight, 30.

Jorgensen, K.-A. (2017). ‘Children’s clans’; social organization and interpretative reconstruction as aspects on development of peer-groups in outdoor play. Ethnography and Education 12(1), 1-18.

Kemple, K.M., Oh, J., Kenney, E., & Smith-Bonahue., T. (2016). The Power of Outdoor Play and Play in Natural Environments. Childhood Education, 92(6), 446-454.

Kolivoski, K., Weaver, A., & Constance-Huggins, M. (2014). Critical Race Theory: Opportunities for Application in Social Work Practice and Policy. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services 95(4), 269-276.

Komulainen, S. (2013). The ambiguity of the child’s “voice” in social research. In J. Soler (Ed.), Transforming practice. Critical issues in equity, diversity and education (pp. 105-124). Stoke on Trent et al: Trentham Books.

Knowles, G. (2011). Diverse families, Diverse Childhoods. In G. Knowles & V. Lander (Eds.), Diversity, equality and achievement in education (pp. 31-47). London et al.: Sage.

Lee, E. (2010). Revisioning Cultural Competencies in Clinical Social Work Practice. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services 91(3), 272-279.

Marshall, T. H. (1964). Class, citizenship and social development. Garden City: Doubleday.

Olsen, H. & Smith, B. (2017). Sandboxes, loose parts, and playground equipment: a descriptive exploration of outdoor play environments. Early Child development and Care, 187 (5-6), 1055-1068.

Platt, J. (1973). Social Traps. American Psychologist 28(8), 641-651.

Rakic, J. (2013). Emotions in English: cultural scripts as mediators between language and culture. Linguistics and Literature 11(1), 75-89.

Ramirez, F. O., Bromley, P., & Garnett Russell, S. (2017). The Valorization of Humanity and Diversity. Multicultural Education Review 1(1), 29-54.

Schank, R. & Abelson R. (1977). Scripts, plans, goals, and understanding: an inquiry into human knowledge structures. Hillsdale.

Schroeder, D.A., Jensen, T.D., Reed, A.J., Sullivan, D.K., & Schwab, M. (1983). The Actions of Others as Determinants of Behavior in Social Trap Situations. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 19(6), 522-539.

Siegel, H. (2017). Education’s epistemology. Rationality, Diversity, and critical thinking. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sturm, T. (2016). Konstruktion differenter Schüler/innen durch Lehrpersonen. In: M. Hallitzky, A. Rakhkoch-kine, B. Koch-Priewe, J. C. Störtländer, & M. Trautmann (Eds.), Vergleichende Didaktik und Curriculumforschung. Nationale und internationale Perspektiven. Comparative research into didactics and curriculum. National and international pespectives (pp.199-206). Bad Heilbronn: Klinkhardt.

Tully, J. (1995). Strange multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tuma, R. & Knoblauch, H. (2018). Videographie. In L. Akremi, N. Bauer, H. Knoblauch & B. Traue (Eds.), Handbuch Interpretativ forschen (pp. 636-658). Weinheim & Basel: Beltz Juventa.

Wenning, N. (2007). Heterogenität als Dilemma für Bildungseinrichtungen. In S. Boller, E. Rosowski, & T. Stroot (Eds.), Heterogenität in Schule und Unterricht. Handlungsansätze zum pädagogischen Umgang mit Vielfalt (pp. 21-31). Weinheim et al.: Beltz Juventa.

Wierzbicka, A. (2002). “Russian cultural scripts”: the theory of cultural scripts and its application. Ethos 30(4), 401-432.

Categories: 2019, Articles - JETEN, Movement/Play/Health/Outdoor

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: