The construction of the decline of children’s outdoor play as a social problem in the UK

PhD Thesis

Nash, D. 2018. The construction of the decline of children’s outdoor play as a social problem in the UK. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences
AuthorsNash, D.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

The past three decades have seen a substantial growth of interest in children’s play in scholarly and popular writing, the mass media and government policymaking. Implicit and explicit in this growing interest is the idea that children’s play, or more specifically, a decline or lack of children’s outdoor play, represents a serious problem in the UK and other western societies and that it therefore requires the intervention of a range of professional and political powers. The rapid and widespread affirmation that claims about children’s play have received deserves critical examination.

This study examines the construction of children’s play as a social problem in four major UK newspapers. Focusing on the period from 1985 to 2016, it draws on theoretical and conceptual tools from the constructionist study of social problems and methodological tools from Qualitative Media Analysis to examine the roles played by various claimsmakers in the construction of the problem and the rhetoric used in support of their cause. It hence offers important insights into the prominent position children’s play holds on the public agenda and identifies some of the underlying cultural currents from which claims about children’s play draw.

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Publication process dates
Deposited08 Feb 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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