Week 46: 27th- 30th December 2016

If play originates from a temporary situational joyful and socially inclusive sensational experience and situations are just products of what we are, how is it that there is so few public places truly socially inclusive designed.

Situation- a set of circumstances in which one finds oneself; a state of affairs. Or the location and surroundings of a place.

Spontaneous-  performed or occurring as a result of a sudden impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus.

Play – engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.


Play origin

Old English:

plegain – to exercise

plega –brisk movement


Middle dutch:

Pleien- leap for joy, dance


Theoretical thinking


Further thinking on spaces based on the reading of Lefebvre’s “Production of space”. Aim of this exercise is to create a response to the assessors feedback.

Energy needs to be wasted. Energy is not constant.

Energy produces space, too much space speeds up the process until disconnection is reached. The process implodes and creates a new opportunity through rebirth.


We create in our minds spaces (representational space). These spaces can be transformed through energy into symbols reaching out beyond the individual identity. Symbols can be transformed into action. These actions have effects on objects in space. Through a surplus of energy we can modify these objects. This process of producing these spaces can be described as ‘lived space’ (Lefebvre,p. 236) as it embodies both spaces (mentally and physically) and has a strictly symbolic existence. The results of the produced spaces effect other identities adding further energy and shared interpretation of objects. This shared interpretation in conjunction with actions in space can be called co-production of space. This co- production can just occur as long there is a surplus of energy available. Once this energy ceases, transformation occurs and changes into the space of memory. Complete is the cycle of space creation. This transformational process from co-production into the representational space, as Lefebvre referred it to, and opens up bridge to consciousness that creates the opportunity to elevate self- consciousness.

How does this relate to play?

Play lends itself as the perfect vehicle to this theory.

Lefebvre eloquently described this in his book “The production of space” and talks about a triad of spaces.

The representation of space (maps)

The representational space (memory).

The lived space (absolute space).


His thoughts originate from Marxist thinking about the value creation through labor,….

I agree with Lefebvre that “knowledge falls into a trap when it makes representation of space the basis for the study of ‘life’ for is doing so it reduces the lived experience”.  There is a great need to verify and test a priori against a posteriori (empirical evidence research approach. As Kant outlined the nature of a priori as transcendental and enables a better understanding of different forms of all possible experiences. I believe that both need to work with each other. A priori can be understood as a guiding light asking to be contested and verified by the a posteriori approach.


Urban Designers should strive to understand all three dimension of spaces if we want to create healthier environments for people. Play can be one of the vehicle to understand the interplay and harness indicators that create a fertile ground for carefully inserted changes in space enabling further playful experiences.


With that in mind, the study of play supports the notion for this research project to collect data in a posteriori manner and use abductive reasoning, to find the logical inference from observation to the most likely explanation (theory).

Play in the street



Week 44: 12th- 16th December 2016

In a philosophical conversation with Mo over the weekend – he made me aware of the philosophy of signs. On the basis that this research project is looking into physical traces in the built environment I’ve looked a bit further into it and found the following useful:

Culler, J. (2001). The Pursuit of Signs. Routledge, London and New York.

Foucault, M. (1966). Les Mots et le choses. Paris, Gallimard, p.15

Structuralist and semiotic thinking has been repeatedly labelled ‘antihumanistic’, and Michel Foucault has provided a target for such attacks in maintaining that ‘man is only a recent invention, a figure not yet two centuries old, a simple fold in our knowledge’ which will soon disappear. Michel Foucault, Les Mots et le choses, Paris, Gallimard, 1966, p.15 in P. 36 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

Indeed, we often think of the meaning of an expression as what the subject or speaker ‘has in mind’. But as meaning is explained in terms of systems of signs- systems which the subject does not control- the subject is deprived of his role as a source of meaning. P. 36-37 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

Meanings cannot be imposed unless they are understood, unless the conventions which make possible understanding are already in place. P. 44 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

Jacques Derrida calls the ‘logocentrism’ of Western culture: the rationality which treats meanings as concepts or logical representations that it is the function of signs to express. We speak, for example, of various ways of saying ‘the same thing’ p. 44 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

The pursuit of semiotics leads to an awareness of its limits, to an awareness that signification can never be mastered by a coherent and comprehensive theory, should not be reason for spurning its analytical programs as if there were some more valid or comprehensive perspective on signification. P.47-48. in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

The institution of literature involves interpretive practices, techniques for making sense of literary works, which it ought to be possible to describe. Instead of attempting to legislate solutions to interpretive disagreements, one might attempt to analyse the interpretive operations that produce these disagreements- discord which is part of the literary activity of our culture. P. 52 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

–> aegis of semiotics that seeks to identify the conventions and operations by which any signifying practice (literature) produces its observable effect of meaning.

One should seek ways to analyse the work as an objective artefact. P. 53 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

Semiotic program may be better expressed by Karl Popper –> he talks about artifacts

 Why is Lefebvres “Right to the city” today relevant?

  • Back when he wrote about the concept at the end of the 1960’s the western world was dominated by a power imbalance. Government were heavily involved in top-down planning programs, which led to suppression of the option of the masses. Capital through developers rolled out mass housing projects. This neoliberal modernism was critiqued by him.
  • Today the landscape has changed, many government have insufficient funds in order to operate well. The private sector enjoy due to favorable political environments unprecedented power in decision making processes. One may argue we are living in an environment were the capital has gone on steroids- modernism reloaded. Within the city context large scale urban renewal projects being quickly rolled out and meaningful engagement often takes place on a tokenistic level. As a consequence people feel disempowered and overruled. The city vision is not shared resulting in conflicts.
  • I’d like to conclude that Lefebvres concept of “Right to the city” is today even more important than ever before.


Refining the play definition and categories

I’ve tried now to verify my classifications of play in relation to the definition by superimposing the findings from the pilot phase.

By doing so I came to the conclusion that not all activities observed are covered by all elements of play in the definition. Although I would classify them as playful as they are in line with Callouis classifications, there must be some level of what must be met and what is an option.

Point of origin

Play is an intrinsic induced activity, that constitutes freedom, based on the acceptance of risk in its temporary transformational nature. It includes attributes such as spontaneity, curiosity, voluntary and creative processes that occur outside of the ordinary. This purposeless activity is necessary to the human identity as an exploratory pursuit of pleasure and comfort outside of social purpose.

New amended version

Play is an voluntary intrinsic induced activity (or with a degree of extrinsic motivation), that constitutes freedom through enjoyment, based on the acceptance of risk in its temporary transformational nature. Associated attributes such as spontaneity, curiosity, creative processes and purposeless can support this activity as it situated outside of the ordinary. This activity is necessary to the human identity as an exploratory pursuit of enjoyment outside of social purpose.

For orientation purpose

Playful interaction (definition in Tieben, R., Sturm, J., Bekker, T., Schouten, B. (2014). Playful persuasion: Designing for ambient playful interactions in public spaces. Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments 6, 341-357, DOI 10.3233/AIS-140265, IOS Press.):
Interacting in a playful way in order to elicit explorative, social and enjoyable behaviour. (from Bekker, M.M., Sturm, J., Eggen, J.H. (2010) Designing playful interactions for social interactions and physical play. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 14(5), 285-296.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: Intrinsic motivation refers to doing an activity for the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself, while extrinsic motivation refers to the performing of an activity in order to attain some separable outcome. (from Ryan, R.M., Deci, E.L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist. 55, 68-78.)

Theories such as self-determination theory are helpful in gaining a better understanding of the influences of such types.

Theoretical thought:

The more people play the higher the production function of a space!

Human rights and healthy environments paper (Kruger, T.M., Savage C.E., Newsham, P. (2015). Intergenerational Efforts to Develop a Healthy Environment for Everyone: Sustainability as a Human Rights Issue, The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, Vol 80(1), 27-40, DOI: 10.1177/0091415015591108

by using the framework of human rights to advocate for policies and practices that protect older adults and promote high quality of life in that segment of the population, efforts can and should include attention to the natural environment and sustainability effort. p.29-30.

Morgan and David’s work from 2002 has been referenced as a useful overview on human rights documents. Two articles were identified as relevant to promote quality of life for older adults (article 25.1, article 27.1)

‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being of himself (sic) and of his (sic) family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or the lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his (sic) control.’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948, article 25.1)

‘Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits’. (UDHR, 1948, article 27.1)

‘Older adults might have skills that younger generation lack (e.g. gardening).’ p. 36

‘Researchers should develop interventions that target multiple generations for sustainable behavior increases; these interventions should also be investigated using the lens of human rights.’ p. 36


Week 43: 5th- 9th December 2016

Monday (5th Dec) facilitation a workshop with 22 school children form Giralang in Canberra. Student age ranged from 8- 10 years.

Task: Imagine and create your ideal street.
Time frame: 45 minutes
Groups size: 5-6 pupils
Material: Cardboard, plasteline, markers, glue, coloured paper, scissors, tape, wooden sticks

Some of the outcomes were:
– sofas on streets,- a water and sand play area on every street,
– Rock climbing streets,
– Areas where you can find pets (sharing them across the street)
– Tree houses,
– Cubby houses,
– Star lab,
– Parks and trees,
– Swings,
– Biggest adventure playground in the world,
– area where you are allowed to make a fire,
– miniature race space,
– most Cul-de-sac were converted into water play areas or other recreational spaces,
– road space was narrowed to one lane in pink colour and a parcoure put in
– playing field at the end of the street
– conversion into one way street

–> interestingly no child was drawing cars in the street

Rachel, Tom, Lisa and I will write up an article for a journal paper in Design Principles and Practices Journal: Design in Society https://secure.cgpublisher.com/conferences/382/web/proposals/new_proposal_entry


completed the review of Donald Appleyards book: street compiling ten years of his research on traffic and neighbourhood streets. Note stickers are in the book.


Idea: to restructure the PhD topic down to street and not cities. (helps to narrow the focus)

Based on the reading I’ve once more revisited the three questions trying to narrow down the research problem:

  • What is an optimal experience for people in street spaces?
  • What are the environmental triggers that facilitate change?
  • How can this device be used to support optimal urban experiences in public spaces?

After that I’ve revisited the introduction and the provisional title (see link below)


Martin Heidegger (1972). On Time and Being. Harper &Row. New York.

Definition: dialectic

‘adrift inn contradictory statements… One allows the contradictions to stand, even sharpens them and tries to bring together in comprehensive unity what contradicts itself and thus falls apart. This procedure is called dialectic.’ p.4

‘To think Being itself explicitly requires disregarding Being to the extent that it is only grounded and interpreted in terms of beings and for beings as their ground, as in all metaphysics. To think Being explicitly requires us to relinquish Being as the ground of beings in favor of the giving which prevails concealed in unconcealment, that is, in favor of the It gives. As the gift of this It gives, Being belongs to giving. As a gift, Being is not expelled from giving.’ p. 6

‘We perceive presencing in every simple, sufficiently unprejudiced reflection on things of nature (Vorhandenheit) and artifacts (Zuhandenheit). Thing of nature and artifacts are both modes oppressively when we consider that absence, too, indeed absence most particularly, remains determined by a presencing which at times reaches uncanny proportions.’  p. 7

‘Plato represented Being as idea and as the koinonia of the Ideas, when Aristotle represents it as energeia, Kant as position, Hegel as the absolute concept, Nietzsche as the will to power, these are not doctrines advanced by chance, but rather words of Being as answers to a claim which speaks in the sending concealing itself, in the “there is, It gives, Being”. Always retained in the withdrawing sending, Being is unconcealed for thinking with its epochal abundance of transmutations. p.9

In relation to present and time: ‘we understand the present as the now as distinct from the no-longer-now of the past and the not-yet- now of the future. But the present speaks at the same time of presence. However, we are not accustomed to defining the peculiar character of time with regard to the present in the sense of presence. Rather, we represent time- the unity of present, past and future- in terms of the now.” p. 11

Kant says: time thus represented: ‘It has only one dimension’ in Critique of Pure Reason, A31, B47).

Time-space: ‘the name for the openness which opens up in the mutual self-extending of futural approach, past and present. This openness exclusively and primarily provides the space in which space as we usually know it can unfold. The self-extending, the opening up, of future, past and present is itself pre-spatial; only thus can it make room, that is, provide space. ‘ p.14
Time-space as commonly understood, in the sense of the distance measured between tow time- points, is the result of time calculation. In this calculation, time represented as a line and parameter and thus one-dimensional is measured out in terms of numbers. The dimensionality of time, thought as the succession of the sequence of nows, is borrowed from the representation of three- dimensional space.’ p. 14

True time is four-dimensional. past, present, future and nature of matter. –> holds them toward one another in the nearness by which the three dimensions remain near one another. (nearing nearness, nearhood –> Nahheit) used by Kant. Brings future, past and present near to one another by distancing them. p.15

‘Time is not the product of man, man is not the product of time. There is no production here. There is only giving in the sense of extending which opens up time-space.’ p.16

‘What determines both, time and Being, in their own, that is, int heir belonging together, we shall call: Ereignis, the event of Appropriation.’ It is not simply an occurrence, but which makes any occurrences possible. p.19

His conclusion: “The task or our thinking has been to trace Being to it own form Appropriation- by way of looking through true time without regard to the relation of Being to beings. To think Being without beings means: to think Being without regard to metaphysics. Yet a regard for metaphysics still prevails even in the intention to overcome metaphysics to itself. If overcoming remains necessary, it concerns that thinking that explicitly enters Appropriation in order to say It in terms of It about It. Our task is unceasingly to overcome the obstacles that tend to render such saying inadequate.’ p. 24

After finishing the Heidegger book I’ve revisited and amended once more the three research questions:

What urban street environment is optimal for playful experiences?
What are the environmental triggers that facilitate change?
How can play as a heuristic device be used to allow for optimal urban experiences in streets?

Street literature

Key aspects from

Appleyard, D., Gerson, S., Lintell, M. (1981). Liveable Streets. University of California Press Berkley. Los Angeles, London.

First line in the book in relation to the lived experience in ancient streets in Rome:


The incessant night traffic and the hum of noise condemned the Roman to everlasting insomnia. “What sleep is possible in a lodging?” he asks. The crossing of wagons in the narrow, winding streets, the swearing of drivers brought to a standstill, would snatch sleep from a sea-calf or the emperor Claudius himself.


Carcopino, Daily Life in Ancient Rome p.1

Nearly everyone in the world lives on a street. People have always lived on streets. They have been the places where children first learned about the world, where neighbors met, the social centers of towns and cities, the rallying points for revolts, the scenes of repression. But they have also been the channels for transportation and access; noisy with the clatter of horses’ hooves and the shouts of their drivers, putrid with dung, garbage, and mud, the place where strangers intruded and criminals lurked. p.1

In the nineteenth century the streets of European and American cities were no better than those of ancient Rome, although outside observers saw dirt and overcrowding as the main problems. p.1

–> today’s problem streets have predominately movement function, air pollution (fine dust and smog), noise pollution, and marginalisation of all other street function that lead to impacts on health and well-being in particular higher levels of physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, leading to diabetes two as well as depression

Garden City movement sought to make streets safe though cul-de-sacs, residential squares and neighbourhood units, with safe pedestrian pathways to the school. Modern architects “freed” their buildings from the street by placing them at right angles to develop quite green spaces.

–> increased car ownership (still continuing) more traffic as predicted; parking lots and more roads replace safe green open spaces. P.3

1961 Jane Jacobs glorified the intricacy and diversity of the old city and called for a return to the street. ”She argued that the lively urban street, was the safest place in the city.” Criminals could be identified on it, while in the parks and anonymous grounds of modern housing projects no one took it upon themselves to look out for others.” P. 3

Colin Buchannan in England published an influential report Traffic in Towns, à the report suggested to introduce the concept of zoning the city into “environmental areas”, where the environment would be the dominant concern. P.3

Herbert Ganz focused on the social homogeneity in neighborly relations. (1968). He also accused Jacobs of falling for “environmental determinism” by arguing that the design of housing and streets could in itself bring diversity to urban street life. P.4

Environmental concern really just begun to emerge in the 1980 in the US and looking into the overall satisfaction in residential areas.

Studies in 1975 emerged that found noise in the street due to heavy traffic. The most poignant issue was the large number of children injured or killed by traffic. p.5

The 12th international study week in traffic engineering and safety in 1974 reported that 84% of children under 10 years of age were injured within 800 m of home, and 70% of all accidents in the Netherlands involved children under 6 occured in streets carrying less than 3000 cars a day. p.8

OECD conference April 1975 “Better towns with less traffic” the street has personal and social meaning for adults and old people, too. We need not romanticize street life to be willing to protect it. p.9

First there must be a community willing to address the traffic issue. p. 10

four steps:

  1. thorough understanding of activities and mindset of the residential area (e.g. problems with groups and change);
  2. variety of strategies can create more livable streets and protected neighbourhoods to alleviate conditions where traffic in necessary.
  3. Effective participation programs that inform and encourage those affected by traffic changes to become involved in the planning process. –> I would suggest changes to meaningful engagement
  4. Reliable and relevant methods of assessing the costs and benefits of changes to different population and stakeholder groups. p.11


environmental analysis of the City Planning Department of San Francisco on the Urban Design Plan in 1969. p.15

  • vegetation
  • quality of view
  • maintenance
  • facade variety
  • distinctiveness form other street blocks
  • distance of each block from open space

Finding: streets with heavy traffic have no children on its block outside. p.16

Traffic noise index (Griffith and Langdon 1968)

Ask about important feature of the public (street) space to the person. p.24



to explore what is it like to live on as street where people can play? Several ways in which more streets can be safer and healthier for people?





Week 38: 31st Oct- 4 November 2016

Week 37 was predominately used to catch up with work and get up to speed after the conference in Quito, Ecuador.

I’ve learned at the conference that in particular my preliminary research had already an impact in cities (city of Gervais in Oregon, USA) through our Perspective Statement on Right to the City: 2016-10-08-gervais-planning-and-design-document

–> this proofs that the play research in already useful in a applied context, even before finalised.

Highlights of this week:

  • confirmation of my paper presentation at the American Association of Geographers Conference in Boston, in April 2016. Given my co session presenters have a focus on emotion in urban spaces, I was urged to change my abstract. (see under the Link)
  • Still waiting to hear back from the IPA conference (paper abstract submission here)
  • Received feedback on funding proposal for DAAD/ Universities Australia –> unsuccessful. Need to investigate new ways to fund the research trips.
  • preparation of my presentation for the Play Symposium in Canberra on the 10th November. Focus on play in cities and not just for children. Presentation can be accessed here: play-symposium-uc-greg-mews
  • Received the kind invitation to present my PhD research at TEDx in Wellington as part of the city partnership with TEDx Canberra. 13- 16 November 2016.
  • Preparation of my presentation for my confirmation seminar. The meeting with Andrew was very constructive. I need to focus on structure that works for broader audience, but also caters to the needs of the academics.


Week 27: 15th – 19th August 2016

Meeting with supervisors

  • took place in week 26
  • received valuable feedback on my summary one pager. As I understood the entire PhD hangs off these 500 words.
  • Also I’ve received a valuable article, that creates a useful bridge between physical activity and play where observational methods were used.
  • Thiel, A., Thedinga, H. K., Thomas, S. L., Barkhoff, H., Giel, K. E., Schweizer, O., … Zipfel, S. (2016). Have adults lost their sense of play? An observational study of the social dynamics of physical (in)activity in German and Hawaiian leisure settings. BMC Public Health, 16, 689. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-3392-3
  • Conclusion of paper was: in order to get adults more physical active focus on fun message and carry out further studies in leisure time environments.
  • As the predominant form of public realm in cities is street space, it supports the notion that my research can add value and is so far unique.

fieldwork preparation

  • Work on observational coding table continues. I am focusing on types human playful activity, environmental composition (spaces and places) and supportive information (age, gender, body composition, time).
  • important that these measures can be related back to my original research questions.

Documents attached Purpose of research 2081016
fieldwork play types



Week 23: 18th- July to 22nd July 2016

Pokemon Go effect

Is Pokemon Go play? Depends on definition. The activity is transforming space and time, creation of an alternative reality with temporary nature. It has clear rules to follow (structured play) but to a degree self- directed as player can choose his route and where to go.

How does Pokemon Go functions as playful behaviour in relation to the triad of space:

  • People move in the perceived realm.
  • The game is constructed in conceived space by web architects
  • The experience will have an impact in the lived space in form of memory.


  • People are more physical active in the public domain
  • people create more passive surveillance
  • populate streets and parks more often
  • they play more


  • the memory may not generate value in the perceived realm. It distorts the quality of the perceived realm with reference to social connectivity.
  • unable to engage in the perceived realm to 100 percent, accidents and safety issues
  • walking zombie effect (random people stay alone)
  • excludes people without mobile devices
  • Commercial  benefits (people drop a nest in their shop, that increased visitors and thy will consume more) –> ideal product of a neo-liberal age (purchase mobile device, create software, visual merchandise, steer indirect human behaviour)
  • people can get addicted and lost/ sick


Pokemon Go news:

‘Pokemon Go’ Players Nearly Caught A Bullet After Being Confused For Burglars

Table for playful behaviour analysis during fieldwork

fieldwork play types can be downloaded here.


Sutton-Smith (1997). The Ambiguity of Play

The main tenet of the rhetoric of progress is that adulthood and childhood are quite separate, childhood being innocent, nonsexual and dependent (Benedict, 1938). It said that children’s and adults’ play are also quite different, that of children being open, cor creative, and that of adults being closed, or recreative. The desire for children to make progress in development and schooling has led to play’s being considered either a waste of time (the view of educational “conservatives”) or a form of children’s work (the belief of educational “progressives”). The one view is that play is not usefully adaptive, the other is that it is. p. 19

In relation to play culture of children

Most play studies in the first half of the twentieth century have been of the normative kind (Herron and Sutton-Smith, 1971). Even in the great original work of Piaget, Play, Dreams and Imitation in Childhood (1951),in which play is harnessed to cognitive development is laid before us primarily as a set of stages through which children must proceed both in cognition and in play. p.36

Developmental psychologies focused on mapping the increase complexity of the human organism.

“Within that inner life, play is a mental process that builds upon and integrates many other processes in the developing child’s mind- thinking, imagining, pretending, planning, wondering, doubting, remembering, guessing, hoping, experimenting, redoing and working through. The child at play, using these varied mental processes, integrates past experiences and current feelings and desires.” p.37

“I believe that play is the most ideally effective form of developmental aid because the child becomes familiar with the world, himself and his limits. p.37

Higher forms of play, as judging by imaginative or verbal complexity, are again and again correlated with higher forms of school-related social or educational sucess (Howes, 1992). p.39

Metanalyss of these multiple disparate studies, showing that play contributes to early development by enhancing adjustment and reducing language problems and socioemotional difficulties, with variances ranging between 33 percent to 67 percent (Fisher, 1992). p.39

Longitudinal research showing that the more interesting and fulfilling lives are those in which playfulness was kept at the center of things (Erikson, 1972; quoted by Bruner, Jolly, and Sylva, 1976, p.17). p.39

It seems that play is seldom the only determinant of any of the important forms of learning that occur in young children. Even if it does function in any such a way, it is only one of multiple influences (Christie, 1991). p. 41

The evidence of play studies and game studies is that complexity in play is highly correlated with age. So given this correlation, it is an easy mistake to believe that the major purpose of play development is to contribute to other kinds of age-related development- social, emotional, and cognitive. p.42

Another factor, which receives less attention and also confuses the relationship between play and development, is the finding that children appear to develop play skills through play, which enables them to go on playing with other children, thus substantially increasing their happiness. Sometimes their play skills enable them to become so competent that they go on to play on representative teams, to travel to other towns, cities, in games. p. 43

More generally, play skills become the basis of enduring friendships and social relationships and also offer a way of becoming involved with other children when shifting to new communities. Obviously this is also true for adults. Play is of direct value to those who are successful in their play. p. 43

Children are so motivated to be accepted in play that they make sacrifices of egocentricity for membership in the group. In addition there are ethnographic playground accounts, such as those of Hughes (1983) and Beresin (1993), that reveal that a great variety of social subtleties- about group membership and group power- are being learned and exercised in playgrounds. (…) Children do learn how to play on playgrounds and at other play places. p.44



The inability to play, as in case of mental illness or in highly stressful circumstances. What is remarkable is how some healthy individuals manage often to play in stressful circumstance (Eisen, 1988). p.45

Play as pathology; as in case of gambling addiction or in rigid forms of self-limiting repetitive behaviour; as seen in pathological patients or in those with character defects who confine themselves, to regressive or sadistic play forms (Brown, 1994, Slade and Wolf, 1994). p.45

Play as a form of security, as is typical of what have been called “low players”, persons who are anxious or aggressive in their expressive behaviour and confine themselves to repetitive and minimally expressive forms of play (Fein and Kinnex, 1994). p.45

Play as stereotypic. Most play forms are highly stereotypic, form house play to crossword puzzle to team sport. The are the typical play forms of persons with average to complex playing capacity. Their games are culturally self-satisfying vehicles and increase the enjoyment in the lives of those who play them (Meckley, 1994). p.45

playful forms of play. these are the games who have a creative capacity for playing. Typically this is demonstrated by the variety and complexity of playful transformations of which the players are capable, and by their ability to convert their own playful characteristics into play scenarios for others. p.46

Old and young

What are the reasons for adult play? Erikson (1956), one of the few even consider the matter, has suggested that while the child goes forward in his play, the adult goes sideways. This apparently means that children are growing up while they are playing and adults are not. Presumably adults have already grown up, so the supposed growth virtues of play are irrelevant. If play is a preparation for maturity (Gross, 1976), then what are the maturing doing when they play? Are they preparing for death? Perhaps they are not preparing for anything. p.47

a play theory that is only about progress and deals only with some small part of the population (children) could hardly claim to be encompassing one. If it could be believed that elders do not play at all (as was often originally supposed both for animals and humans), then the rhetoric of progress would hold some cogency. It has indeed long been maintained that adult festivals, carnivals, sports, and parades are not play but merely entertainments or recreations. But this seems to be  a disguise of decreasing credibility. (..) must grasp this strange companionship of the very young with the very old. In all these cases play seems to have more to do with waiting than preparing, more to do with boredom than with rehearsal, more to do with keeping up one’s spirit than with depression. p.48

Validations and Definitions

To the hegemony of adults over children revealed in the way in which the theories provide rationalization for the adult control of children’s play: to stimulate it, negate it, exclude it or encourage limited form of it. p49

The definitions of play given by child players themselves generally center on having fun, being outdoors, being with friends, choosing freely, not working, pretending, enacting, fantasy and drama, and playing games (King, 1979, Kaarby, 1986). There is little or no emphasis on the kind of growth that adults have in mind with their progress rhetoric. The children’s rhetoric is by large similar to that adopted by adults in the rhetoric’s of the self, which are about play as some kind of valued personal experience, so the children are probably echoing those modern public adult scripts. p. 49

No contradiction between ‘assuming that players play for intrinsic personal motivational reasons and that the effects of such play are useful for the extrinsics of other kinds of adaptation. p 50

Fagen reviewed play defintions of 37 authors (1981, pp.500-504).

extrinsic academic, social, moral, physical, and cognitive play functions, with  a progress- oriented thrust, have been the major focus of most child play scientists seeking to demonstrate that play is the practice of real-life adaptive skills for survival (biological emphasis), that it can ensure feelings of mastery and competency through conflict resolution and compensatory activity (psychogenic emphasis), and more recently, that it can develop skills for cognitive and education (cognitive emphasis).

all assume that play does indeed transfer to some other kinds of progress that are not in themselves forms of play. p.51

All confirm that extrinsic theories focused on the field of child play and dominated the rhetoric of progress. p.51

so far there is no marked clarification of their similiarities or differences.p.51

Play is an irrational act of gaining pleasure through one’s own illusions. p.54

‘Calling the mastery of play in childhood or adulthood forms of hallucination or illusion is itself an epistemological discourse that implies something defective about them. (…) Given that there is nothing more characteristic of human achievement than the creation of illusory cultural and theoretical worlds, as in music, dance, literature, and science, then children’s and gamblers’ full participation in such play worlds can be seen not as defect, or as compensation for inadequacy, but rather than illusory worlds highlights this move towards a more positive, if narrower, epistemological attitude about their function. As we now see the creating of human meanings as a central to human culture, we can give more primary appreciation to these manifestations in our artists, our children, and our gamblers (Hymes, 1974). We might borrow from Steiner the view that the issue is no longer whether here is superior reality versus inferior play, but whether the play is itself merely ordinary or as a case of “brilliant virtuality” (1995). The rhetoric of fate is a real threat to the rhetoric of progress, because the concept of virtuality promises to put adults and children in the same ludic world. –> Pokemon Go  or digital transformation p.54-55

O’Flaherty , W.D. (1984). Dreams, Illusion and other Realities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. –> about the ways in which they are alike, the ways in which they are different, and what each teaches us about reality. Transformation of some sort or another are the heart of myths –> p.3

She highlights an excurse into Hindu mythology: The world is at play in the hands of the gods, and dreaming and playfulness are forms of reality treated as seriously as the so-called commonsense world. Play, like dreams, is not a secondary state of reality as it is with us but has primacy as a form of knowing. She says further “In India the realm of mental image is not on the defensive. Commonsense has a powerful lobby there, as it has with us, but it does not always have everything its own way. Reality has to share the burden of proof with unreality in India, and it is by no means a foregone conclusion that reality will win.” p.304

Handelman, D.(1992) Passages to play: Paradox and process. Play and Culture 5(1):1-19 states on the matter:

“In Indian cosmology, play is a top town idea. Passages to play and their premises are embedded at a high level of abstraction and generality. The qualities of play resonate and resound throughout the whole. But more than this, qualities of play are integral to the very operation of the cosmos. To be in play is to reproduce time and again the very premises that inform the existence of this kind of cosmos…Now in cosmologies where premises of play are not embedded at a high level and are not integral to the organization of the cosmos, as in Western society, the phenomenon of play seems to erupt from the bottom. By bottom up play I mean that play often is phrased in opposition to, or as a negation of, the order of things. This is the perception of play as unserious, illusory and ephemeral, but it is also the perception of play as subversive and resisting the order of things. (p.12)

Schechner, R. (1988) Playing. Play and Culture 1(1):3-27; echos O’Flaherty and confirms that play in the Western world is considered something low in status compared to Hindu culture as the divine process of creation. In western culture we consider play as not real, but in Hindu culture it is one of multiple realities, all transformable into each other. Further he notes that playing is for us as for the Hindus – a creative destabilizing action that frequently does not declare its existence, even less its intentions. Playing is a mood, and attitude, a force. It erupts or one falls into it. It may persist for a long time as specific games, rites, and artistic performances do- or it comes and goes suddenly- as wisecrack, an ironic glimpse of things, as bend of crack in behaviour…It is wrong to think of playing as the interruption of the ordinary life. Consider instead playing as the underlying, always there, continuum of experience…Ordinary life is netted out of playing but playing continually squeezes through even the smallest holes of the work net…work and other activities constantly feed on the underlying ground of playing, using the play mood for refreshment, energy, unusual ways of turning things around, insights, breaks, opening and especially looseness. pp.16-18









Week 20: 27th June – 1 July 2016

More thoughts

In reference to Lefebrve’s Production of Space:

“If reality is taken in the sense of materiality, social reality no longer has reality, nor is the reality.” p. 81

Thought: It may explain the increased level of depression and anxiety in western cultures.

Dwelling is as much a work as it is considered a product. However it remains a part of nature. It is an object intermediate between work and product, between nature and labour,between the realm of symbols and the realm of signs. p.83

The city may be understood as a work instead of a product. Example Venice, Italy.

If work is defined as a unique, original and primordial, as occupying a space yet associated with a particular time, a time of maturity between rise and decline –> under these circumstances Venice can be understood as a work.p. 73

What if one replaces the term/ word “work” with “play”. This would translate in relation to work in the context of unique act of creation rather production.

If play is defined as a unique, original and primordial, as occupying a space yet associated with a particular time, a time of maturity between rise and decline. –> spaces in cities can be understood as play spaces.

Case study rational

Based on Yin and after many ours of reflection I am testing  a single case study approach (phenomena play) and apply this on several units (precincts in cities). This will allow me to test certain methods and based on success rate to deploy them in an improved manner on other units.

However, while thinking about the approach further there is a part of me who still favours the multiple case study approach. Yin refers to the circumstances that 6-8 case studies are sufficient to prove a phenomenological point, but my project will investigate maximum 4 cases.

Multiple case approach:

  • Each on is a whole study in itself (lends itself to the book -> constructing a narrative behind the context)
  • Weakness might be that this distracts too much from the phenomena
  • It may be impossible to replicate environmental condition for play as their are time temporal and unique pending on outdoor condition.
  • analytical conclusions easier
  • if you do not seek direct replication it is good because of contrasting situation

general critique on single case studies:

  • fear about the uniqueness –> criticism turn into skepticism about the ability to undertake empirical work
  • requires careful investigation of the potential case to minimise the chances of misrepresentation and to maximise the access needed to collect the case study evidence.

critical test of a significant theory.

  • Revelatory case: investigator has an opportunity to observe and analyse a phenomenon previously inaccessible to the social science, Whytes “Street Corner Society” is an example.
  • Representative or typical case: capturing of circumstances or conditions of an everyday lay concept. Informative about experiences.

holistic case study problem: nature of the entire case study may shift, during the course of study. –> would need to make sure that the research questions still apply.


If I would do a single case study, then a embedded unit of analysis would be better. I would have to make sure that the single case- design (play) is eminently justifiable under certain conditions:

does it represents a testing of a theory? Unlikely.

is it a rare or unique circumstance? or representative or typical case? or where the case serves a revelatory case? In my case revelatory case.

Definition of the unit of analysis particular important: in my case precincts in cities (urban morphologies I am looking at). In can also include subunits.

  • Single revelatory case (play)
  • units (city/urban precinct)
  • subunits (urban tissues: public space, open space, park, street, edge)

Yin suggests that often too much attention goes into the subunits and the larger, holistic aspects of the case being ignored.

Multiple case studies: 2 or 3 cases can be undertaken on the basis of replication, but how clear can I define the parameters for replication (every city, every urban environment is unique)

The theoretical framework is particular important as it needs to state the condition under which a particular phenomenon (play) is likely to be found. –>  multiple case study might be better for comparison. Deployment of the same logic in every case.

Pilot case study -> worthwhile  in order to refine data collection plan with respect to content and procedure.

Selection criteria: convenience, access, geographical proximity

single case study embedded approach (revelatory)



multiple case study embedded  approach


Unit of analysis:

  • Definition very important. Unit would be a certain city and the subunits (open space, public space, parks, streets, edges)
  • The unit of analysis can be compared.

I will need to determine the scope of data collection (see methodology), how I distinguish data about the case (play) from external data (context–> cities, health and well-being in general).

Spatial, temporal and other concrete boundaries need to be defined as key to defining my case (play).

Revisiting the research question

Validation after amendments to case study approach and in order to be clearer, narrower  and less vague.

Led research question

Original: Why does play in cities matter?


  • Why do people play in cities?
  • Why should cities be designed for play?
  • Why do people prefer certain environments for play in the cities?

Answering research questions (White, 2009, p.114 ff.)

data –> warrant –> conclusion (Gorard, 2002)

The conclusion needs to be linked to the evidence via the warrant. The warrant is a logical argument demonstrating why the conclusions follow from my evidence.

Claims need to be stated clear and precise.

Prepare to defend claims against alternative interpretation.

Warrant can be a principle

E.g. if a greater number of play incidents are observed at a particular point in time compared to another point in time, this may constitutes a rise or frequency in playful behaviour.

play at time A: 6

play at time B: 15

Warrant principle

claim: play activity increased


Case study definitions & Selection criteria


The case will be the phenomena of play, in the context of human playful behaviour.  The definition of play:

Play is an intrinsic induced activity, that constitutes freedom, based on the acceptance of risk in its temporary transformational nature. It includes attributes such as spontaneity, curiosity, voluntary and creative processes that occur outside of the ordinary. This purposeless activity is necessary to the human identity as an exploratory pursuit of pleasure and comfort outside of social purpose.


Precincts in mid- size cities (see results week 19 blog).


Public place:


Open space:

Open space refers to land that has been consciously or unconsciously reserved for the purpose of either formal or informal activity such as sport and recreation, preservation of natural environments, provision of green space and/or urban storm water management.



Why these four categories?