Entangled in the midst of it

A diffractive expression of an ethics for playwork

by Wendy Russell

Wendy at White City AP SMAP Feb 2016 cropped

Photo: Andrew Higgins


The Playwork Principles establish the professional and ethical framework for UK playworkers. They also create contradictions that have an ethical dimension. Following an historical contextualisation, the chapter critiques the assumption of the autonomous rational agent implicit in the Playwork Principles’ understanding of both play and playwork. It reconfigures playwork as relational, affective and affecting, embodied, situated and irreducible to representation in language. Through a diffractive reading of the work of Karen Barad, Rosi Braidotti and Judith Butler, it offers a posthuman, nomadic and relational ethics, acknowledging the emergent, ongoing and intra-active co-production of play spaces in which playworkers are already implicated.

Read Dr Russell’s full (pre-proof) chapter* here.

*The author’s submitted version (pre-proof) for inclusion in M. MacLean, W. Russell and E. Ryall (2015) (eds), Philosophical Perspectives on Play, London: Routledge.


Thousands of children expected for Playday 2016

Tomorrow, 3 August, tens of thousands of children and young people from across the United Kingdom will be out playing, celebrating Playday – the national day for play, when hundreds of local and regional play events are taking place to promote the importance of children’s right to play.

This year’s Playday theme, ‘Play Matters…’ celebrates the many benefits of outdoor play: climbing trees, making dens, jumping in puddles, making mud pies, rolling down hills, playing with water, chasing, hide and seek, climbing.

Playday national coordinators, Play England, Play Scotland, Play Wales and PlayBoard Northern Ireland issued a statement, saying:

“It will be no surprise to learn that when children talk about their preferred play experiences, they more often than not cite outdoor play as their favourite activity. This makes sense; the outdoors is the very best place for children to practice and master emerging physical skills. Frequent and regular opportunities to explore and play in the outdoor environment are essential for children’s … well-being, health, happiness, learning and development”.

To mark this year’s Playday, publishers Routledge, part of the Taylor and Francis Group, have made a selection of play-related academic papers and articles available free of charge for the duration of August. Visit their site here to view the selection.


About Playday

Playday was originated by a small group of playworkers in London in 1986 as a response to threatened cuts and closures to adventure playgrounds and play schemes (Plus ca change!)

It has become the national day to celebrate children’s play in the UK, traditionally held on the first Wednesday of August. As well as a coordinated annual event, Playday continues to be part of the campaign to highlight the importance of play in children’s lives and their right for this to be provided for within the public realm.

For more information see www.playday.org.uk

Follow #Playday2016 on Twitter

or visit the Playday Facebook page