“The Atmosphere is Permissive and Free”: The Gendering of Activism in the British Adventure Playgrounds Movement, c.1948-1970.

Cowman, Krista “The Atmosphere is Permissive and Free”: The Gendering of Activism in the British Adventure Playgrounds Movement, c.1948-1970. Journal of Social History . ISSN 0022-4529

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shy066

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Abstract

This article explores how gender shaped activities on British adventure playgrounds, designated abandoned spaces where children engaged in free play with urban materials under loose adult supervision. It argues that as these bold experiments emerged in post-war Britain in a period when women’s traditional roles were beginning to be scrutinized and questioned they might have been expected to develop into spaces where traditional gendered norms were challenged, girls and boys offered different forms of play, and mothers drawn into wider community activism. This potential was limited through the emergence of the figure of the heroic playleader, a charismatic man capable of taming potentially delinquent urban youth through extreme displays of masculinity. Consequently t was not until the late 1970s, a decade after the establishment of an autonomous Women’s Liberation Movement, that adventure playgrounds began to challenge gendered play behaviors.

Keywords:adventure playgrounds, British, children
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V140 Modern History
Divisions:College of Arts
ID Code:32253
Deposited On:04 Jun 2018 10:55

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