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Pandemic playthings: A multimodal perspective on toys and toy play in the time of COVID-19
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4078-5458
Number of Authors: 32024 (English)In: Global Studies of Childhood, E-ISSN 2043-6106, Vol. 14, no 1, p. 62-80Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article considers ways in which toys have featured in children’s play throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst often dismissed as trivial novelties, toys can be seen as a significant aspect of material culture, both reflecting and constructing ideas of childhood. A multimodal social semiotic perspective is used to examine a selection of toys produced between 2020 and 2022 that respond to the pandemic in various ways. The toys feature representations of the virus, of accessories for enacting pandemic practices such as mask-wearing and vaccination, and of pandemic ‘heroes’. In addition to these commercially produced toys, examples of toy play collected by the Play Observatory project from 2020 to 2022 are also analysed. These real-world instances demonstrate toys and everyday objects being used to playfully make sense of, and communicate understandings of, the COVID-19 pandemic. In combination, the examples reveal discourses embedded in the multimodal design of ‘pandemic playthings’ and ways in which toy play demonstrated children’s agentive meaning-making, including awareness and understandings of the pandemic they may not have articulated verbally. In this way, toys and toy play are seen as deeply meaningful, revealing stories about children and childhood in the time of COVID-19.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2024. Vol. 14, no 1, p. 62-80
Keywords [en]
play, toys, multimodality, semiotics, COVID-19
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-228180DOI: 10.1177/20436106241233305ISI: 001187119400003Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85186628523OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-228180DiVA, id: diva2:1850671
Available from: 2024-04-11 Created: 2024-04-11 Last updated: 2024-04-11Bibliographically approved

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Selander, Staffan

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