Call for papers: Playful Participation


Call for papers: Playful Participation

Deadline: Papers must be submitted by August 7, 2015                 

Play is a powerful source in people’s encounters with their everyday life, surroundings and society. Furthermore, play is increasingly intertwined with a range of different fields, from learning, exercising and city planning to creative work relations. Identities are built through playful interactions with games (Sutton-Smith, 1997) and social media, playful learning engages students’ abilities and competencies, and organisations use play as a motor for innovation and engagements.

The attempts to utilise playful behaviour in cultural, educational as well as organisational contexts reveal tensions when rational social organisation meets forms of playful participation that are less bound by instrumental obligations. The tensions between play and socio-political constraints have been a central theme for artists, designers and architects throughout the 20th century. The Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuis, for instance, worked on his utopian city, New Babylon, for over a decade. In New Babylon play was intended to liberate man from work and the capitalist constraints of everyday life. In a similar vein, Flanagan (2009) has shown how play and games have been used, as ‘critical play’, to disrupt and subvert systems of power and authority. In relation to the lucid city, Quintin Stevens has argued that play often involves ‘unfunctional, economically inefficient, impractical and socially unredemptive activities which are often unanticipated by designers, managers and other users’ (Stevens 2010). Following this, we draw on the notion of counterplay as a ludic or playful vitality that, as argued by Tom Apperley and Michael Dieter, holds transformative expressions and ‘speaks directly to the disruptive creation of the new through the reiterations of gaming’ (Apperley and Dieter 2010).

In this special issue we call for papers that investigate these inherent contradictions of playful participation, for instance by asking the fundamental question: What exactly is playful participation? But also: How might playful encounters motivate participation? To what extent can playful participation be utilised for e.g. cultural or educational purposes without losing sight of ‘being playful’? And how does playfulness challenge pre-established norms of participation? Papers might address questions of playful participation in relation to fields such as, but not limited to, playful culture, playful learning, playful cities and playful organisations.