Recent theories of culture have stressed the centrality of the everyday in the construction of social life. From Marxist to post- structuralist perspectives, the structure and production of the mundane have become focal points for the understanding of culture and social action. Mere child’s play has assumed increased importance within this scheme. Seen as undergirding class cultures, such play is viewed as the formative material upon which superstructures of resistance are later constructed.
At the forefront of many recent investigations has been the solitary figure of Mr. Potatohead. As a common object of play Mr. Potatohead has been viewed as representative of a myriad of creative processes through which children are inscribed with meaning from adult social structures. Originally characterized as a totemic form by structuralist analyses, interpretations of the role of Mr. Potatohead in contemporary culture have proliferated rapidly. Structuralist analyses have been criticized by Marxists for their neglect of Mr. Potatohead’s function in the maintenance of bourgeoise hegemony.
My thanks to George Alscer, Sally Deutsch, Scott McNall, Matt Pofahl, and Stefan Tanaka for their suggestions and encouragement. All theoretical malfeasance contained herein is wholly my own (and it took considerable effort on my part).
* Please note that due to recent events the spelling of the object of analysis of this paper is subject to change under Vice-Presidential scrutiny.
Marc W. Steinberg
Departent of Sociology
950 Main St.
Worcester, MA 01610-1477