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The social context of school playground games: Sex and ethnic differences, and changes over time after entry to junior school

By Peter Blatchford, Ed Baines and Anthony Pellegrini


This short term longitudinal study examined activities at recess and peer relations. Interest was in changes over the school year, and the sex and ethnic mix of groups. Data came from systematic observations of 129 pupils (61 boys and 68 girls) aged 7-8 years. Results showed that peer interaction dominated recess. Ball games increased over the year, and chasing games decreased. Aggression was most common during vigorous play and conversation, but not ball games. Cleavage in boys' and girls' play and activity was common but not inevitable. Mixed sex play was not supported by particular game types. Boys’ game networks were larger than those of girls but there were no sex differences in active networks. There was little ethnic group segregation on playgrounds, and games became more integrated with time. Results indicate that playground activities can have a positive role in social relations between different ethnic groups

Year: 2003
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