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Practice-based Research in Children's Play$
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Wendy Russell, Stuart Lester, and Hilary Smith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781447330035

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447330035.001.0001

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Adventure playgrounds and me: bringing the past into the auto-ethnographic present

Adventure playgrounds and me: bringing the past into the auto-ethnographic present

(p.53) Four Adventure playgrounds and me: bringing the past into the auto-ethnographic present
Practice-based Research in Children's Play

Tom Williams

Policy Press

This is a personal study aimed at exploring why adventure playgrounds (APGs) have had such a fascination for the author for over 40 years. It weaves a critical and narrative ethnography with an affect-based auto-ethnography, resulting in various voices (author as researcher, narrator, participant) and approaches. The research involved an immersion in the author’s own history with APGs aided by a process of mutual recollection via email with five participants who shared that history; (re)visiting APGs in London, Copenhagen and Berlin; and a process of observation and reflection. This performative and auto-ethnographical approach aims to contribute something new to articulating the significance of APGs. Four themes emerged from this iterative and intuitive process: the mindful audacity of APGs, APGs as places of drama and unspoken narratives, APGs as spaces that are alive in many ways, and the hope that arises from this process of sensemaking. The interplay between these themes offers a socio-cultural view of APGs as symbolic places of heterodoxic and cultural possibility, at odds with a developmental and progressive view of children’s lives.

Keywords:   adventure playgrounds, children’s play, auto ethnography, affect, narrative, sensemaking

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