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'We are all friends': Disrupting friendship play discourses in inclusive early childhood education

In early childhood education, playing with friends has long been considered developmentally appropriate and an indicator of a child's growing social competency. 'We are all friends' is a familiar mantra heard in classrooms and playgrounds. For children with a diagnosed disability and their families, inclusive settings offer the promise of play experiences with children without a diagnosed disability. However, the expectation of building friendships and the opportunity to play with friends is not always realised. This article problematises and questions the way friendship play for children is discursively produced and normalised. For the most part, it remains unchallenged, leading to exclusions that are often overlooked. As the friendship play discourse is appreciated as legitimate and taken up by children, it produces a marginal Other. Examining data created during a six-month post-structural ethnography, the power of friendship play discourses comes into focus, making visible exclusionary effects that raise questions about the persistent and pervasive use of the statement 'We are all friends'. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers

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