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The changing nature of childhood in the twentieth century and the way in which developments in technology may have diminished childhood in some way is frequently the topic of media debate. Whereas much of this media coverage is speculation, anecdotes and misinformation, the aim of this book is to offer a more informed account of changes in the nature of the relationship between play, media and commercial culture in England through an analysis of play in the 1950s/60s and the present day. The book draws on a rich range of data collected in the playground (videos, interviews, observations, questionnaires) as well as the oral history accounts, in addition to an analysis of historical documents, relevant secondary data, and media products, in order to compare and contrast the relationship between play, media and commercial culture in the 1950s/60s and the present day. The book begins with this era because this is when the first large-scale surveys of play in England were undertaken by the Opies. In addition, the 1950s saw the widespread take-up of television by families, which began a dynamic engagement with screen entertainment in the home. This, therefore, provides a pivotal point for the start of a study on changes in the relationship between media, play and consumer culture. The book then traces the continuities and discontinuities in this relationship and places these within an analysis of the historical, social and cultural contexts of the times. The changes in the construction of childhood, approaches to play, parenting and schooling over the past 60 years are amongst the issues addressed.
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