Politics, playwork and neo-liberalism


In this first of an original series of pamphlets, the UK playwork scholar Gordon Sturrock argues that avoiding the political implications of playwork practice will lead to its continuing, inevitable demise. Nor should we water our politics down to accommodate more dominant discourses. Instead, he argues, the field must vigorously embrace its true ethos, and so offer a vital alternative to the neo-liberal colonisation of education – and the wider public realm – to the rapacious capitalist project.


Gordon Sturrock is a playwork theorist and writer. He is co-author, with the late Perry Else, of The Play Cycle: An Introduction to Psycholudics (The Colorado Paper), and The Therapeutic Playwork Reader.

Photo: Meriden Adventure Playground

One thought on “Politics, playwork and neo-liberalism

  1. bendalbey01 says:

    Hi Gordon — I’m excited that you have read and responded to my paper. I’m disappointed that I did not more clearly convey my basic thesis, which is that neoliberalism is a disaster for the vast majority of children — both within and outside of formal educational settings — and is making the earth uninhabitable for humans. These things are at least as true in the U.S. as they are in the U.K., which is what I was attempting to outline. Far from advocating accommodation, I was proposing a radical break from the use of the language and goals capital and associated victim-blaming politics and a turn toward revolutionary hope. I’ve been talking a bit about these facts and their implications for play advocacy in the U.S., and I found Wendy Russell’s idea of a collective political ethos along with developing examples of credible oppositions to the hegemony of neoliberal politics hopeful and inspiring in this regard. The commons movement you describe here may well be another important area of resistance and creation with relevance to the field.

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