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Children’s Virtual Play Worlds

Culture, Learning, and Participation


Edited By Anne Burke and Jackie Marsh

As children’s digital lives become more relevant to schools and educators, the question of play and learning is being revisited in new and interesting ways. Children’s Virtual Play Worlds: Culture, Learning, and Participation provides a more reasoned account of children’s play engagements in virtual worlds through a number of scholarly perspectives, exploring key concerns and issues which have come to the forefront. The global nature of the research in this edited volume embraces many different areas of study from school based research, sociology, cultural studies, psychology, to contract law showing how children’s play and learning in virtual spaces has great potential and possibilities.
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12. An argument for assemblage theory: Integrated spaces, mobility, and polycentricity


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An Argument for Assemblage Theory

Integrated Spaces, Mobility, and Polycentricity



A child born since 1994 into one of the nations of the global north has been born into a culture with virtually no collective memory of life outside the global connectivity that has accompanied the rapid spread of digital technologies and the internet. With this in mind, in this chapter I am interested in giving consideration to the textual, social, and technological contexts in which young people travel in contemporary society. To advance this consideration, the chapter will draw from analyses of two contexts: an object ethnography of LEGO blocks (see also Carrington & Dowdall, forthcoming) and a newly released virtual world. Responding to the implications of these two analyses, the chapter will argue that a theory of assemblage (Deleuze, 1991; DeLanda, 2006a) can make a significant contribution of our understanding of the processes and practices with which young children are developing mastery of text and technology, alongside an understanding of how the world around them is constructed.

Context 1: Virtual World

By 2010, registrations in virtual worlds had passed the 1 billion mark. Of these billion registrants, 46% identified as 10–15 years of age. A small mathematical calculation ← 200 | 201 → suggests that children and early adolescents account for almost 500 million—and growing—virtual world registrations. Holding the sheer volume of numbers alongside the...

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