The “rowdy” school football pitch: A study of the significance of the place for social life on the football field and the school yard

In Swedish

Julia Wester
Dept. of Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University

The purpose of the article is to spotlight and create knowledge about the school’s football field as a place and its role in the social life in the schoolyard. The study was done to enhance our understanding of the kind of conflicts and hierarchies that can play a role in shaping the football field, and what that tells us about places, social relationships and identities in the schoolyard. The article shows that the football pitch can be understood as a pluralistic and changing place. At different times, conflicts, exclusion, hierarchies and identities are either allowed or limited among the children. The school, pedagogues and children are co-creators of the meaning ascribed to the football field, where the most prominent view is that it is rowdy. When the site is used as having a singularly fixed meaning, it is the most conflicting and exclusionary. In contrast, different activities can take place in parallel without conflict during periods when the football field is “closed” and transformed into an interspace. Identities among the children are negotiated, created and re-created in relation to the football field and the social relationships and expectations that surround it. The way in which the soccer field is organized by the school regulates space and socializing in the schoolyard, which creates seasons in the children’s social geographies.

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JULIA WESTER is a teacher in after school leisure centre with a masters degree in children and youth studies. Her research interests include leisure-time centre, social life and gender in school. Julia’s bachelor thesis examined if there is a difference in how pedagogues touch girls and boys. Since the subject was not previously researched it got a lot of attention in the media.

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