Hong Kong Family Play, Childhood Culture, and Social Reproduction

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 417
Oral Presentation
Kimburley CHOI , City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Scholars have established that ethnography of family consumption practices is a fruitful way of analyzing parental beliefs and practices, meanings of buying to children, the commodification of parent-child intimacy and peer connections, and the reproduction of social class and gender differences and hierarchy. Postdevelopmental early childhood education scholars argue that the ethnography of children’s play shows differences in children’s capacity and involvement of play due to social and cultural differences. Power, as consumption practices, is integral to play. There is a convergence that scholars from different disciplines study consumption and play in context. Nevertheless, no one to date has used visual ethnography to examine the relationship of family play, social reproduction and market, although play is increasingly commodified in recent years.

In Hong Kong, people generally regard family as the most important component of human life, and children’s status has changed from economically worthless to emotionally priceless. Emphasizing on academic achievements, scholars argue that Hong Kong parents are instrumental to children’s play. Parents worry play may divert children’s attention to study, but they increasingly ask children consume commercial eduplay and enrichment activities for alleviating parental anxiety and serving parents’ hopes and aspirations for class mobility and maintenance. Both children and parents use various play commodities and activities to claim their power and status, to express distinction and to perform identity.

The research uses a visual-ethnographic perspective (analysis of family video diaries, video- and photo-elicitation interview, in-depth semi-structured interview and field study) to help fill the research gap by studying Hong Kong family (with children aged 3-8) play and out-of-school activities. In turn, the study aims to expand its analysis to larger social sentiments, relations and contexts: Hong Kong parenting culture, childhood play culture, market, intrafamilial dynamics, social belongings, social differences and reproduction in a context of social and economic uncertainty.