Det massiva barnrummet : teoretiska och empiriska studier av leksaker
Sammanfattning: The present thesis consists of three reports, each addressing questions about toys in two separate spheres in children’s everyday life, the children’s own rooms and the pre-school. The theoretical starting point in the three reports is that toys are viewed as signs in communication processes. The first report describes the development of a classification system for toys. The classification system is based on two fundamental ideas. The first is that toys always in some respect resemble something in the world outside the toys themselves, e.g. cars, tea sets, tools, clothes, animals, people. The second idea is that toys have the potential to resemble (represent) “real” things or ideas in different modalities, i.e. toys can be more or less true representations of the “real” world. The classification system is designed to make it possible to identify which area of activity, what kind of human beings or which domain of nature that each single toy represents and in which modality the representation is. The classification system has been used in an inventory of toys in the rooms of 152 three- and five-year-old children in Halmstad, Sweden, in 1998. Analyses of data from this inventory showed, among other things, that some areas in real life are frequently represented by children’s toys, e.g. domestic activities, while other areas are rather infrequently represented, e.g. occupational activities. In the second report the data from the inventory is analysed for gender differences. The toy collections of boys and girls in Halmstad, Sweden, are compared with boy´s and girl´s possession of toys, choice of toys in experimental settings and letters to Santa Claus in a number of international studies. Since Sweden is regarded to be more equal and less gendered than other societies, the hypothesis was that the toy collections of Swedish children would be less gender stereotyped than those of children in other countries. There was no support for this hypothesis in the data. Rather, the data indicated that the Swedish toy collections were more gender stereotyped than those found in similar studies in other countries. In the third report the classification system is used for classifying toy collections in pre-school settings. The toys are viewed from a semiotic perspective in order to analyse offered meanings in the toy collections in relation to the contextual frames they exist in. The toys are seen as markers for dominant values and ideas within the Swedish child-care curriculum. In the light of the Educational program for pre-schools toys appear, more or less, as material for children’s education rather than material for children’s play.
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