Research – ESR 2

Exploring the impact of contemporary social discourses on the play of families with children at risk of play deprivation


  • To identify the ‘conditions of possibility’ for play in contemporary European society, including public discourse around play (e.g. public policy and strategies, the media – including blogs, tv, advertising, printed materials);
  • To understand the impact of contemporary social discourses on play of families with children at risk of play deprivation;
  • To identify diverse ways in which families with children at risk of play deprivation navigate dominant discourses about ‘typical play’ to construct meaningful/healthy play routines.

PhD award:

Joint degree at University College Cork (UCC) and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (QMU)

Background rationale:

Play deprivation occurs when children do not have the same freedom or capacity to access play opportunities on an equal basis to other children, due to cultural, social, and attitudinal barriers. Socio-cultural discourses about play are often adopted by parents, caregivers and teachers and used to guide the play opportunities provided for children. This becomes problematic when ideologies about play behaviour lead to play deprivation. Research that explores play from a gendered perspective, a category defined by the UNCR as having possible implications for play deprivation, is needed to progress the understanding of play diversity in families and communities. Using a critical analysis, this candidate’s research will explore gender ideologies as they appear in children’s play using the voices and observations of children, parents, caregivers and teachers.

Expected results:

  • A critical review of contemporary discourses around play with a particular emphasis on gender will be conducted using literature from diverse disciplinary perspectives, policy documents and media sources.
  • Through the lens of gendered play, new knowledge about how children and families describe their play and navigate dominant discourses when constructing their play
  • New insights into sociocultural beliefs around gender that enable or prevent inclusion across two European countries will be used to inform good practice in play provision relating to gender equality.
  • A guidance document for gender inclusive play will be developed for educators, therapist and policy makers.
Prof Jeanne Jackson

P4PLAY Coordinator and Supervisor at University College Cork for ESR 1 and ESR 2

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Dr Sarah Kantartzis

Supervisor at Queen Margaret University for ESR 1 and ESR 2

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PHD Student:
Dr Allison Mula

PhD Candidate - Early Stage Researcher 2

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Joanie Barron

Advisor for ESR 2

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