Designing for Play as Cultural Participation in Childhood. Seeking New Grounds

This special issue of “Conjunctions. Transdisciplinary Journal of Cultural Participation” invites contributions that explore children’s play as cultural participation and production empirically and theoretically, especially in how we can design for cultural participation and production. The recognition of the importance of play in childhood is deeply rooted in the Nordic research on child culture.

For years the Nordic studies of children have been defending children’s right to unguided play, driven by the participants as a fundamental condition for participatory cultural practice in childhood. At the same time, the conditions for children’s play have changed fundamentally, and as a result of this, the conditions for children having the possibilities to explore their capacity as cultural producers have also changed. We have seen a decline in children’s traditional and self-governed participatory play culture. The unguarded play has become scarce, replaced by monitored places and transparent architecture in day-care, kindergarten, schools, and homes. This creates new challenges for contemporary play research and practices if we still want to promote play as cultural participation and production.

The question is how we can design for play, driven by the participants. Design for play in that sense demands high awareness of how we think and define play in theory as well as in everyday practice, addressing the possibilities for participation as productive play culture.

Topics may include:

Designing for

  • Play in children’s everyday life
  • Play and technology
  • Play and materialities
  • Play and creativity
  • Playful in institutional settings
  • Play and music
  • Play as aesthetic practices
  • Play as a democratic practice
  • Play and digital media
  • Play and humour

Articles should be between 6000-7000 words, incl. references, endnotes, captions and headings. All articles will undergo blind peer-review for final selection in the special edition. No APCs are required.


  • June 15, 2021: Submission of abstracts (500 words, title incl., 5 keywords and author bio)
  • July 1, 2021: Editors´ decision on selection of abstracts for the special issue
  • November 1, 2021: Submission of full papers (7000 words, references and notes included)
  • November 2021-March 2022: Review phase
  • April 2022: Final submission of revised papers
  • June 2022: Publication of special issues

Any questions related to this special edition can be sent to the guest editors:

Helle Marie Skovbjerg, Professor. Design School Kolding. Denmark.

Tilde Bekker, Professor. Eindhoven Technical University. Nederland.

Anne-Lene Sand. Post.doc. Design School Kolding. Denmark.

Liv Torunn Grindheimn. Professor. HVL, Norway.