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Playing free in the Polish people's republic: Making do without consumerism

Playing free in the Polish people's republic: Making do without consumerism

Sidorenko, Ewa (2014) Playing free in the Polish people's republic: Making do without consumerism. Childhood in the Past, 7 (2). pp. 95-116. ISSN 1758-5716 (doi:

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This paper examines contemporary recollections of childhood under communism in urban Poland (1960s–89). In a deliberate move to try and tell this history from the point of view of those who were children at the time, the paper tries to focus on memories reshaped by contemporary issues. The key sources of data are an online discussion thread on the ‘Virtual Poland’ website and an online survey conducted through the use of social media. Two interesting themes emerged. First, despite relative ‘objective’ material equality and an overall sense of security, children and young people growing up in the second half of the forty-four years of communist rule developed an ambivalent and complex relationship with ‘materialism’. Second, despite strict ideological control over education, culture, and all aspects of social life, communism failed to colonise children’s free time. Compared to adults whose lives were dominated and expression limited, children enjoyed much freedom to explore, socialise and take risks to a degree greater than children can today.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Childhood in the Past on 24/10/2014, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords: childhood, play, toys, consumerism, risk,unsupervised play, communist society, Poland, memory, social class under communism
Subjects: L Education > LA History of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Education (EDU)
Last Modified: 01 May 2020 11:35

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