Playing with authority in and out of school

A session planned by Hervé Varenne (Teachers College, Columbia) and Jim Mullooly (Beloit College) for the April 2003 meeting of AERA

- draft -

Playing with school forms both within the school and outside its boundaries is something that has rarely if ever been addressed as a matter of theoretical interest. And yet there is much evidence that it is through play, humor, caricature, etc., that core features of social life are highlighted, discussed, and possibly negotiated in everyday life. By focusing on play, we hope to contribute to the emerging critique of the relevance of the vocabularies of hegemony, habitus, and resistance that postulate participants' misunderstandings of their conditions. We are interested in noticing the multiple ways people find to underline aspects of their conditions whether to make fun, criticize, or suggest other possibilities. At such moments authority may be acknowledged and accepted. And then again it may not be. What is important is to recognize the artful work of all within the given parameters. Some of the papers will emphasize authority, others playfulness and what James Boon has called the extravagance of cultural production (Verging on Extra-Vagance: Anthropology, History, Religion, Literature, Arts . . . Showbiz. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999).

June 2002