In recent years, there has been a shift towards more intensive parenting (Lareau, 2003; Nelson, 2010). This can be observed in levels of parental involvement in the daily activities of children. This project examines parental attitudes towards unsupervised and unstructured play. The literature suggests that factors such as social class and the personality of the child affect parental supervision. In this project, Ulrich Beck (1992) and Anthony Giddens’ (1999) theory of risk society is used in order to explore why there has been a shift in parental attitudes towards unsupervised and unstructured play. Additionally, a symbolic interactionism framework is used to explore how people derive meaning about supervision during play. Finally, this project explores how parents make decisions about their children’s play by using rational choice theory. Ten semi-structured interviews with parents from suburban, middle-class neighborhoods are conducted in order to explore the factors that parents consider when making decisions about structure and supervision. The results indicate that there are multiple factors that influence parental attitudes. These include the personality of the child, the previous experiences of the parents, and balancing the different needs of the child.


Nurse, Anne


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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