Youth, Recreation and Play conference, May 31


Youth, Recreation and Play

University of Greenwich, Maritime Campus

Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation, with Youth and Policy

Thursday May 31st 2012, 9.30 a.m.-5.00 p.m., Queen Anne 080

While young children’s need to play is widely recognised, identifying socially acceptable recreational activities for young people can be problematic. Arguably, contemporary UK society has little tolerance of adolescent “risky behaviour”, which has been regarded as an essential aspect of maturation. While complaints about youthful high spirits date back to Plato and beyond, many societies have had “rituals of misrule” which acknowledged the need for a “safety valve” and temporary role-inversion.

Conversely, the engagement of young people with philanthropic activity could and still does bring social endorsement, but to what extent is it class or gender related? Can it be understood as a form of voluntary recreation, or is it performed under pressure from adults?

This one-day conference, hosted jointly with the peer-reviewed journal Youth and Policy, will consider issues relating to young people’s recreation, leisure and play from historical, theoretical and contemporary perspectives. It will address aspects of youth culture, historical definitions of play, recreation and the transition to adulthood, and early modern “rituals of misrule”. Theoretical approaches will consider evolutionary biology and the life-cycle. The theme of children and citizenship will be explored in relation to the Duke of Edinburgh’s awards, disability and the Girl Guide Association, and the Junior Red Cross. Contemporary themes include sociological approaches to friendship , the “lost generation” , the problem of reconciling legal liability with the freedom to play, and the significance of sport and youth work as interventions. A group of schoolchildren will talk about their experiences of playground “Guardian Angels”.

The conference will be followed by the launch of the London Network for the History of Children (5.30 p.m., Queen Anne 075) . Both conference and launch are free of charge, but to register for one or both please e-mail by May 27th with name, contact details, and affiliation/professional body/interest. Late contributions to the programme may be considered.



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