“I’m Putting Myself in a Time-Out”: Suzi “Going Categorical”

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Darcey Searles


When children play, they often say things such as “you be the mommy” or “I’m the teacher” (Gordon, 2002). Children establish these categories of “mommy” or “teacher” as part of their play sequences, which allow them to play in different roles, and assume adult roles even for just a moment. The work done by this type of categorization provides organization to their play. However, children can also create categories in order to accomplish their own personal goals, those that lie outside the purposes of establishing and promoting play categories. The purpose of this paper is to explore how children are able to manipulate those around them via categorical work by looking at the talk of one child, Suzi. More specifically, Suzi is able to use a standardized relational pair and category-bound activities to designate herself as one with authority and thereby promote her social and play agendas.

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