NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED513171
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 279
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-5291-0
Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture
Levey, Hilary Leigh
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Princeton University
Many parents work more hours outside of the home and their lives are crowded with more obligations than ever before; many children spend their evenings and weekends trying out for all-star teams, travelling to regional and national tournaments, and eating dinner in the car while being shuttled between activities. What explains the increase in children's participation in activities outside of the home, structured and monitored by their parents, when family time is so scarce? As the parental "second shift" continues to grow, alongside it a second shift for children has emerged--especially among the middle- and upper-middle classes--which is suffused with competition rather than mere participation. What motivates these particular parents to get their children involved in competitive activities? In "Playing to Win" I analyze the roots and effects of participation in competitive children's activities using data from sixteen months of fieldwork spent in the worlds of competitive children's chess, dance, and soccer, including 172 interviews with parents, children, and teachers/coaches. I argue that parents worry that their elementary school-age children will fall behind in the tournament of life if they do not participate in childhood tournaments. Once limited to high school, performance pressure now appears for children at younger ages. One of parents' main concerns is their children's access to high quality educational credentials--the biggest bottleneck standing in the way of, or facilitating entry into, membership in the upper-middle class. Competitive activities, like sports and the arts, are seen as the essential proving ground that will clear their children's paths to the Ivy League or other similar institutions by helping them to develop a competitive "habitus." This belief, motivated both by reality and by perception, and shaped by gender and class, affects how parents envision their children's futures; it also shapes the structure of children's daily lives, what the children themselves think about their lives, and the competitive landscapes of the activities themselves. At the same time, this new form of early competition reinforces a "less than level" playing field amongst children of different classes. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A