Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 179–194 | Cite as

Power and Participation: Social Representations among Children in Pre-school

  • Annica LöfdahlEmail author
  • Solveig Hägglund


Children’s play is usually connected with qualities such as happiness and innocence, and regarded as important and necessary for learning and development. However, play is not always a state of joy. Experiences of being socially excluded or ignored and of taking part in such activities are occurring. The article draws on a re-analysis of empirical data from a study of pre-school children’s play. The focus in the article is directed towards how pre-school children within the context of play communicate and act in relation to social participation and power. The theoretical framework is built upon a socio-cultural research tradition, particularly emphasising context and communication. Interpretive reproduction, secondary adjustment, and social representations are used as additional theoretical concepts in the analyses and discussions of the results. Empirical data show that children’s social representations of power and participation in play include rationales for who can join the play and who can not, and also how to allow exceptions from the main rule that ‘anyone can join’.


pre-school children play social order peer-culture social representations 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bakhtin, M.M. 1986The problem of speech genresEmerson, C.Holquist, M. eds. Speech genres and other late essaysUniversity of Texas PressAustin60102Google Scholar
  2. Corsaro, W. 1985Friendship and peer culture in the early yearsAblex Publishing CorporationNew JerseyGoogle Scholar
  3. Corsaro, W. 2003We’re friends, right? Inside kids’ cultureJoseph Henry PressWashington D.C.Google Scholar
  4. Corsaro, W. 2005The sociology of childhood2Pine Forge PressThousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  5. Duveen, G., Lloyd, B. 1990Social representations and the development of knowledgeCambridge Univ. PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Göncu, A. 1998Intersubjectivity in social pretend playWoodhead, M.Faulkner, D.Littleton, K. eds. Cultural worlds of early childhoodRoutledge in association with The Open UniversityLondon and New York117132Google Scholar
  7. Hägglund, S. 2000Social responsibility in the classroom: The presence of social representations in communication and interactionChaib, M.Orfali, B. eds. Social representations and communicative processesJönköping University PressJönköping124138Google Scholar
  8. Hägglund, S., & Öhrn, E. (1992). Kön, utbildningsmiljöer och prosocial utveckling [Gender, school settings and pro-social development]. Rapport nr 1992:02. Göteborgs universitet: Institutionen för pedagogik.Google Scholar
  9. Jodelet, D. 1991Madness and social representationsHarvester WheatsheafLondon, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Lindqvist, G. (1995). The aesthetics of play. A didactic study of play and culture in preschools., Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsalensis.Uppsala Studies in Education 62.Google Scholar
  11. Löfdahl, A. (2002). Förskolebarns lek – en arena för kulturellt och socialt meningsskapande. (Pre-school children’s play - arenas for cultural and social meaning-making). Karlstad: Karlstad University Studies 2002:28.Google Scholar
  12. Löfdahl, A. 2005‘The funeral’ – a study of children’s shared meaning-making and its developmental significanceEarly Years25516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Löfdahl, A. 2006Grounds for values and attitudes – Children’s play and peer-culture in pre-schoolJournal of Early Childhood Research47788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mayall, B. 2002Towards a sociology for childhoodOpen University PressBuckinghamGoogle Scholar
  15. Ministry of education and science in Sweden1998Curriculum for the pre-school. Lpfö 98FritzesStockholmGoogle Scholar
  16. Moscovici, S. (1984). The phenomenon of social representations. In R.M. Farr & S. Moscovici (Eds.), Social representations pp. 3–69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.3–69.Google Scholar
  17. Moscovici, S. 2000Social representations. Explorations in social psychologyPolity PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  18. Moss, P., Petrie, P. 2002From children’s services to children’s spacesRoutledgeFalmerNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Nilsen, R.D. (2000). Livet i barnehagen. En etnografisk studie av socialiseringsprosessen (Life in pre-school – an ethnographic study of the socialisation process). Trondheim: Norges Teknisk-naturvitenskaplige universitet.Google Scholar
  20. Sawyer, R.K. 1997Pretend play as improvisation, Conversations in the preschool classroomLawrence Erlbaum Associates, PublishersMahwah, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  21. Thorell M. (1998). Politics and alignments in children’s play dialogue. Play arenas and participation. Linköping Studies in Art and Science: Linköpings universitet.Google Scholar
  22. Vetenskapsrådet,  2002Forskningsetiska principer inom humanistisk-samhällsvetenskaplig forskning [Swedish Research Council Ethical principals within the Human and Social sciences]VetenskapsrådetStockholmGoogle Scholar
  23. Vygotsky, L. 1978Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processesHarvard University PressCambridge MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  24. Vygotsky, L. 1986Thought and languageThe MIT PressLondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Wagner, W. 1998Social Representations and Beyond: Brute Facts, Symbolic Coping and Domesticated WorldsCulture & Psychology4297329Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division for Educational SciencesKarlstad UniversityKarlstadSweden

Personalised recommendations