A visual and ethnographic study of children’s museums, theme parks, amusement parks and Science Centres. The aim of the study was to raise knowledge about how children (age 4-12) use cultural establishments made by adults for children. The study shows that the use of child culture is often important for doing everyday family life.

This project is international in scope, as evident from the choice of the five cultural establishments studied: The children’s museums, Children's Museum of the Arts in New York, USA, the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, USA: and the theme parks and amusement parks Astrid Lindgrens Värld and Liseberg and the Science Centre Fenomenmagasinet, all in Sweden. What happens when children and their families enter these institutions? Do they use vacation money or savings to pay for the visit? Do children and parents use these institutions in the same way? What in particular make these places places for children? And how do children themselves relate to these places?

The study also investigated how cultural heritage/child culture and entertainment and consumption cultures come together in these cultural establishments. On which notions of the child do these establishments draw?

The project was financed by the Swedish Research Council 2010-2015, VR-HU Dnr 2009-2384.

Results from the project

  • Two new theoretical concepts which emphasise the complexity of child culture: child culture multiple and messy and floating (rör(l)iga) child culture.
  • The concept “culture parent”
  • The productivity of research methods when researching child culture
  • The importance of the materiality of child culture and its significance for child culture (money, geography, place and objects).
  • Child culture and consumption as a way of “doing” family
  • Child culture as everyday life
  • The importance of child culture for pleasure, emotions, fantasy, entertainment and learning.
  • Ways of financing child culture


The project is completed but we continue to publish articles.

Cardell, David (2015). Family Theme parks, happiness and children's consumption: From roller-coaster to Pippi Longstocking (Diss). Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, No. 654. Linköping: Linköping University.

David Cardell (2013). ’Tema- och nöjesparker: drivkrafter och definitioner’, i Syssner, Josefina & Kvarnström, Lars (red.). Det turistiska fältet och dess aktörer. 1. uppl. Lund: Studentlitteratur

Cardell, David and Sparrman, Anna (2012) Enacting money at an amusement park. In Anna Sparrman, Bengt Sandin and Johanna Sjöberg eds. Situating child consumption: Rethinking values and notions of children, childhood and consumption, pp. 115-132. Lund: Nordic Academic Press.

Economou, K, Lindgren, A-L. (accepted, in press). Childhood re-edits: Challenging norms and forming lay professional competence on YouTube, Journal of Aesthetics and Culture (themed issue on Visual Frictions).

Lindgren, A-L & Sparrman, A (2014). Blogging Family-like Relations when visiting Theme and Amusement Parks: The Use of Children in Displays Online, Culture Unbound, Vol 6, Article 55, 997-1013. DOI: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.146997.

Lindgren, A-L, Sparrman, A, Samuelsson, T, and Cardell, D. (2015). Enacting (real) fiction: Materializing childhoods in a theme park, Childhood, 22(2): 171-186.

Samuelsson, Tobias (2014) Barns handlingsutrymme i ett alltmer institutionaliserat vardagsliv - Ett barndomssociologiskt perspektiv. I Larsson, Hans Albin (red.) 14 röster kring samhällstudier och didaktik. Jönköping: Samhällsstudier & didaktik. (s. 95-115)

Samuelsson, T, Sparrman, A, Cardell, D, and Lindgren, A-L. (2015). The active, competent child, capable of autonomous action: an inherent quality or the outcome of a research process? AnthropoChildren. Perspectives ethnographiques sur les enfants & l'enfance / Ethnographic Perspectives in Children & Childhood, Issue 5, 

Sparrman, A., Cardell, D., Lindgren, A-L, Samuelsson, T. (2017). The ontological choreography of (good) parenthood, In A. Sparrman, A. Westerling, J. Lind and K. I. Dannesboe (eds.), Doing good parenthood: Ideal and practices of parental involvement, pp. 113-126. London: Palgrave.

Sparrman, A., Samuelsson, T., Lindgren, A-L. and D. Cardell (2016). The ontological practices of child culture. Childhood, 23(2): 255-271.
Sparrman, Anna (2011) Barnkulturens sociala estetik. Locus, 3: 25-44.