Corona in the Schoolyard: Children's Game “Corona” as a Sociocultural Construct during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Keywords:childrens’ games, idioculture of small groups, social and cultural practices related to childhood, Corona, Covid-19
At the beginning of 2020 a children's game called “Corona” spontaneously appeared among the lower grade pupils of the primary school "Saint Sava" in Belgrade’s municipality of Vračar. Typologically it belongs to the games of chasing and the rules of the first detected variant resemble very much the playground game known as tag with the exception that the player who chases is called “Corona”.
During April and May of 2021 a field research was conducted in order to collect information about the ways the game was played in the schoolyard during the months of February and March 2020 (on the 17th of March the schools in Serbia were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and were not opened until the beginning of the following school year on the 1st of September 2020) and during the school year 2020/2021. An analysis of the collected data showed that there are two basic groups of variants: the first one practiced during the school year 2019/2020 and the second one during the school year 2020/2021 (in which the role of Doctor appears). Both groups are described through the ideal types of their respective variants. The ideal type models of all variants have been observed in relation to the series of elements from the sociocultural context within which the game “Corona” originated, pointing towards a direct correlation between the game elements and its structure on the one hand, and, on the other, the changes that occurred in the micro and macro sociocultural environment of the interviewed children immediately before and after the proclamation of the pandemic of Covid-19. Some of the factors which were triggers in the inner dynamics of the process of shaping the variants of the game “Corona” as a sociocultural construct have been discussed: the internal ones (coming from the children's community itself ‒ those concerning their specific needs and their pre-existing idioculture) and the external ones, concerning a dense network of regulatory and informational factors imposing onto the children a new emerging pandemic reality. This new reality resulted in changes of daily routines, reactions to highly restrictive school regulations and exposure to fear- and confusion-inducing information which reached children through various information channels. The new schoolyard game called “Corona” gave the participants possibility to project their inner psychological tension and express it through a recreational activity (running) and through a frame of a complex communication achieved on a symbolic level.
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