Do action figure dolls shape views of war?

STUDY The University of Portsmouth's Dr Tara Woodyer
STUDY The University of Portsmouth's Dr Tara Woodyer
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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SOCIAL scientists are to examine whether action figure dolls help form children’s opinions on war and have a role to play in shaping the future of our armed forces.

It is the first time research has examined the role of toys in the making of young citizens.

The £492,508 project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and will see a researcher from the University of Portsmouth take part.

The team expect to report their findings in 2016, shortly after the expected withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.

The research will focus on best-selling military action figure toy range, the Her Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF) dolls, licensed by the Ministry of Defence.

Principal investigator Dr Tara Woodyer from the University of Portsmouth said: ‘Play has frequently been overlooked as irrelevant to how people come to understand the world, yet it is precisely this apparent banality, the taken for granted nature of play that allows its role to go unchallenged.

‘Toys, and how children play with them, are not just a response to the world, they help shape our culture.’