Levinson, M.P (2005) 'The role of play in the formation and maintenance of cultural identity: Gypsy children in home and school contexts.' Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 34 (5). pp. 499-532. ISSN 0891-2416
Drawing on data from a three-and-a-half-year ethnographic study of Gypsy life in England, this article explores the orientations of Gypsy children toward play and the way in which play operates to affirm a separate identity and enforce boundaries. The apparently uncontrolled, and at times destructive, behavior of Gypsy children in a social/play context has been perceived by some observers as a barrier to educational progress. To illustrate and explore some of these themes, a number of vignettes are provided, through which patterns of play behavior are considered in different contexts, structured and unstructured, in home and school settings. Throughout the discussion, there is a search for sociocultural interpretations of play patterns that appear to differ from norms of the mainstream group, and an attempt is made to consider ways in which such patterns might fill a vacuum created by the erosion of traditional identity markers.
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