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3 - Instructions for a Successful Boy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2022

Jose Bellido
Affiliation:
University of Kent, Canterbury
Kathy Bowrey
Affiliation:
University of New South Wales, Sydney
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Summary

Meccano Ltd promoted a particular type of subjectivity: the ‘Meccano Boy’. This construction toy schooled the child in scientific education, social participation, civic roles, life within a profession and in building the material infrastructure of modernity. Playing with Meccano encouraged translation of an intangible idea represented in two dimensions into material forms through the production of three-dimensional compositions of machinery or models. We compare the legal interpretation of this form of play with its broader cultural significance in creating a base of socially connected consumers, orchestrated to extract commercial value from educational play. Meccano did not involve free play or simply making educational models. A toy for making toys, Meccano was marketed as training for adulthood. Through the establishment of Meccano guilds and the relevance of the Meccano Magazine, children, their fathers and a wider brotherhood were interpellated as active developers of Meccano. It was a brand and activity that Meccano designed for international appeal and where the child was happily engaged in play that supported a later life that contributed to international industrialisation.

Type
Chapter
Information
Adventures in Childhood
Intellectual Property, Imagination and the Business of Play
, pp. 70 - 103
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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