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Playing with Diversity: Racial and Ethnic Difference in Playmobil Toys

Bowersox, Jeffrey; (2022) Playing with Diversity: Racial and Ethnic Difference in Playmobil Toys. Consumption, Markets and Culture , 25 (2) pp. 139-158. 10.1080/10253866.2022.2046563. Green open access

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Abstract

How should toymakers represent a diverse society? Surprisingly, given the force of recent debates over race and nation and over migration, multiculturalism, and the postcolonial condition of Europe and North America, there is relatively little scholarship on how the toy industry engages with these particular themes in the present-day. This article seeks to remedy this by taking a single toy company, Playmobil, as a case study for exploring the politics of racial and ethnic difference in its toys and marketing materials. It argues that the company, in an effort to diversify its products without alienating wary customers, has incorporated difference through specific strategies that elide and thereby reinforce an implicitly white, majoritarian norm, following a pattern of ‘banal multiculturalism’ (Thomas 2011). By exploring these strategies in detail, this study will contribute to a broader conversation about the politics of representation in toys and their impact on consumers young and old.

Type: Article
Title: Playing with Diversity: Racial and Ethnic Difference in Playmobil Toys
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/10253866.2022.2046563
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/10253866.2022.2046563
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Keywords: toys, children, race, ethnicity, colonialism, migration, slavery, diversity
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10144031
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