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Investigating Educational Policy Through Ethnography

ISBN: 978-0-76231-018-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-210-8

ISSN: 1529-210X

Publication date: 22 April 2003


David Buckingham (1998, 2000) has recently argued against rigid dichotomies in the contemporary study of commercial artefacts and childhood culture. On the one hand, children are seen as easy victims of commercial exploitation from big companies, and on the other, they are seen as highly competent agents, immune to any outside influence. Both views feature different types of romanticism. The view of children as victims is partly created around Victorian ideas of childhood innocence, whereas the romantic view of the active child sees children as open, creative, and competent learners, who effortlessly acquire new literacies, including media literacies. Such a view is partly implicitly inscribed into the Swedish School Curriculum (1998) (Läroplan för det obligatoriska skolväsendet, förskoleklassen och fritidshemmet. Lpo 94. [Curriculum for the compulsory school, the pre-school class and the after-school centre. Lpo 94]). In his criticism of the passive-active dichotomy, Buckingham argues in favour of studies of actual practices, that is, what young people actually do with artefacts and media, instead of empty speculations, far away from children’s play arenas. Buckingham’s own studies are mainly based on group interviews with children in the U.K., where he has analysed what was said on a micro level. A fundamental principle in his research is that children’s agency can be seen in their language use. Also, he advocates that we contextualize children’s activities by analysing the social processes of which they form a part. One way of doing this is to relate a study of children’s everyday interactions to media debates and to changes in our views of children as social agents (Buckingham, 1994).


Sparrman, A. and Aronsson, K. (2003), "POG GAME PRACTICES, LEARNING AND IDEOLOGY: LOCAL MARKETS AND IDENTITY WORK", walford, G. (Ed.) Investigating Educational Policy Through Ethnography (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 153-168.



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