Exploring the cultural construction of children's play in Thailand: an action research study with the Foundation for Child Development

  • Author / Creator
    Truong, Son
  • Children’s play has emerged as a global discourse (Fleer, 2009). Studies from diverse theoretical traditions have examined the role of play in child development; however, the dominant discourse of play has largely privileged Western European-heritage cultural practices, and as a result childhood and play have become decontextualized (Kirova, 2010; Steinberg & Kincheloe, 2004). While there is increasing acceptance that play is universal (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2008), it must also be recognized that there is still relatively little that is known about children’s play in non-Western and developing contexts (Göncü, Jain, & Tuermer, 2007). Therefore, this action research study contributes to the growing body of literature in the field of play and cultural studies by exploring Thai views of children’s play. The study was conducted with a Thai nongovernmental organization called the Foundation for Child Development (FCD), and was carried out at one of their play centres in an urban low-income congested community. The purpose was to generate new and deeper thinking about play in order to collaboratively (re)construct practices aimed at enhancing children’s play opportunities at FCD. Data collection took place from November 2009 – 2010 and included volunteer work and participant observation at the children’s play centre. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with FCD staff members and community members. Additionally, a participatory photography research project was conducted with a group of children at the centre. The study was guided by a cultural-ecological conceptual framework. The findings suggest that play is a culturally structured activity that must be situated contextually. A sociocultural-historical perspective reveals that trends of urbanization and modernization are rapidly changing the landscape of childhood; therefore, it is important to consider the interaction between the global and local elements that are shaping children’s play within the contemporary Thai context. The study also calls attention to the importance of having access to play spaces, as they may become meaningful places for children to play and develop. Actions resulting from this study included increasing children’s participation in the planning of their play space and a children’s photo exhibition to raise awareness of the child’s right to play.

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  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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  • Institution
    University of Alberta
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  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Frisby, Wendy (School of Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia)
    • Kirova, Anna (Elementary Education)
    • Spencer-Cavaliere, Nancy (Acting Supervisor, Physical Education and Recreation)
    • McHugh, Tara-Leigh (Physical Education and Recreation)
    • Mahon, Michael (Office of the President, University of Lethbridge)