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Contexts of Childhood and Play: Exploring Parental Perceptions

The article explores cross-cultural notions of play in childhood among parents based on empirical investigations in two economically diverse residential areas in a metropolis in India. All parents had an unquestionable belief in an epistemic grounding of play in children’s lives. However, parents begin to question playtimings and children’s engagement with play when faced with the contemporary demands of schooling which are enmeshed in a childhood dominated by academic achievement, suppressing parents’ intuitive leanings towards play. The school-led social environment regulates play and shapes notions of childhood, forcing parents to socialize children for school performance and ‘print expertise’. Social class variations are more an outcome of socioeconomic geographies and not education-based awareness only. The penetrating advent of technology in children’s lives renders gadgets as treasured play objects among certain social groups replacing the make-believe games of yesteryear.