Playground panopticism: Ring-around-the-children, a pocketful of women. Blackford, H. Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, 11(2):227-249, Vanderbilt University Press, 2004.
Playground panopticism: Ring-around-the-children, a pocketful of women. [link]Website  abstract   bibtex   
In this article, the author invokes Michel Foucault's analysis of panopticism to understand the performance of mothering in the suburban playground. The mothers in the ring of park benches symbolize the suggestion of surveillance, which Foucault describes as the technology of disciplinary power under liberal ideals of governance. However, the panoptic force of the mothers around the suburban playground becomes a community that gazes at the children only to ultimately gaze at one another, seeing reflected in the children the parenting abilities of one another. The author analyzes the elaborate rules of playground etiquette and social competition that occupy the mothers, linking their social discourses to the public neighborhood playground as a symbol for child-centered (suburban) ideology. The author then compares the mothers at suburban playgrounds with the parents that she observed at McDonald's PlayPlaces, which affords different context of use, design and social opportunities. She argues that maternal social worlds need to be understood in relation to the play of children on playgrounds and the increasing appeal of commercial playplaces. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)
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 keywords = {Childhood Play Behavior,Mothers,Neighborhoods,Parenting Skills,Playgrounds,Suburban Environments,child-centered ideology,commercial play places,disciplinary power,mothering abilities,playground panopticism,public neighborhood,social opportunities,suburban playground},
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 abstract = {In this article, the author invokes Michel Foucault's analysis of panopticism to understand the performance of mothering in the suburban playground. The mothers in the ring of park benches symbolize the suggestion of surveillance, which Foucault describes as the technology of disciplinary power under liberal ideals of governance. However, the panoptic force of the mothers around the suburban playground becomes a community that gazes at the children only to ultimately gaze at one another, seeing reflected in the children the parenting abilities of one another. The author analyzes the elaborate rules of playground etiquette and social competition that occupy the mothers, linking their social discourses to the public neighborhood playground as a symbol for child-centered (suburban) ideology. The author then compares the mothers at suburban playgrounds with the parents that she observed at McDonald's PlayPlaces, which affords different context of use, design and social opportunities. She argues that maternal social worlds need to be understood in relation to the play of children on playgrounds and the increasing appeal of commercial playplaces. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)},
 bibtype = {article},
 author = {Blackford, Holly},
 journal = {Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research},
 number = {2}
}

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