In the 1970s, playwork was part of a broad, enriching perspective that focused on ‘the whole child’. While acknowledging that change is accelerating, bringing with it greater complexity, we still tend to search for simplistic order. The so-called ‘age of austerity’ in which we find ourselves is a contemporary attempt to impose order on the chaos that is the global economy. The search for order is pertinent to many aspects of play in contemporary childhood. It is the child of the immensely influential paradigm of modernity and the resurgence since the 1970s of neo-liberal capitalism and advanced liberal politics. At a time of growing insecurity, dislocation and insecurity generated by these forms of liberalism, the narrative claims to offer certainty and redemption. One consequence of this push for order is to increase chaos in the complex system that is our globalised world, and the nature of ‘complexity’ is explained. The crucial aspect of systems in this state, known as ‘complex adaptive systems’ is that we cannot control them, we can only influence them. Because control of a complex system (or more precisely, a complex adaptive system) is not possible, attempting to control will have negative consequences. Thus is created precarity, a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare. Two flawed approaches to playwork can be discerned: Intervention playwork – the provision in times of plenty of a resource-intensive enclave in which to herd children in order to protect them, and Environmental playwork – an approach which looks at the barriers that prevent children from playing in their communities and attempts to mitigate them in a variety of ways. A third longer-term approach to the development of play is required that can respond quickly to its changing environment, yet be grounded within a long-term perspective. A complex approach that takes a strategic and long-term perspective, whilst encouraging experimentation and learning at the level of community provision. The Welsh approach is described as a strategic perspective which places a duty on local authorities to assess and secure sufficient play opportunities for children in their area. That which is loved will persist, like a drystone wall maintained by generations.