The Ambiguity of Play

The Ambiguity of Play

Every child knows what it means to play, but the rest of us can merely speculate. Is it a kind of adaptation, teaching us skills, inducting us into certain communities? Is it power, pursued in games of prowess? Fate, deployed in games of chance? Daydreaming, enacted in art? Or is it just frivolity? Brian Sutton-Smith, a leading proponent of play theory, considers each possibility as it has been proposed, elaborated, and debated in disciplines from biology, psychology, and education to metaphysics, mathematics, and sociology.

Sutton-Smith focuses on play theories rooted in seven distinct "rhetorics"-the ancient discourses of Fate, Power, Communal Identity, and Frivolity and the modern discourses of Progress, the Imaginary, and the Self. In a sweeping analysis that moves from the question of play in child development to the implications of play for the Western work ethic, he explores the values, historical sources, and interests that have dictated the terms and forms of play put forth in each discourse's "objective" theory.

This work reveals more distinctions and disjunctions than affinities, with one striking exception: however different their descriptions and interpretations of play, each rhetoric reveals a quirkiness, redundancy, and flexibility. In light of this, Sutton-Smith suggests that play might provide a model of the variability that allows for "natural" selection. As a form of mental feedback, play might nullify the rigidity that sets in after successful adaption, thus reinforcing animal and human variability. Further, he shows how these discourses, despite their differences, might offer the components for a new social science of play.

  • Format: Paperback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 152 x 229 x 16.51mm | 381g
  • Publication date: 02 May 2011
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • Language: English
  • Edition Statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: 1 table
  • ISBN10: 0674005813
  • ISBN13: 9780674005815
  • Bestsellers rank: 264,019

More Books:

The Ambiguity of Play
Language: en
Pages: 289
Authors: Brian Sutton-Smith
Categories: Education
Type: BOOK - Published: 2009-06-30 - Publisher: Harvard University Press

Sutton-Smith focuses on play theories rooted in seven distinct "rhetorics"--The ancient discourses of fate, power, communal identity, and frivolity and the mode
The Ambiguity of Play
Language: en
Pages: 289
Authors: Brian Sutton-Smith
Categories: History
Type: BOOK - Published: 2001-05-15 - Publisher: Harvard University Press

Every child knows what it means to play, but the rest of us can merely speculate. Is it a kind of adaptation, teaching us skills, inducting us into certain comm
THE AMBIGUITY OF PLAY
Language: en
Pages: 288
Authors: Brian Sutton-Smith
Categories: Education
Type: BOOK - Published: 2001 - Publisher: Harvard University Press

Alexander
Language: en
Pages: 466
Authors: Guy Maclean Rogers
Categories: History
Type: BOOK - Published: 2005-10-11 - Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks

For nearly two and a half millennia, Alexander the Great has loomed over history as a legend–and an enigma. Wounded repeatedly but always triumphant in battle
The Ambiguities of Experience
Language: en
Pages: 168
Authors: James G. March
Categories: Business & Economics
Type: BOOK - Published: 2011-04-27 - Publisher: Cornell University Press

The first component of intelligence involves effective adaptation to an environment. In order to adapt effectively, organizations require resources, capabilitie
You Can’t Say You Can’t Play
Language: en
Pages: 95
Authors: Vivian Gussin Paley
Categories: Education
Type: BOOK - Published: 1993-07-16 - Publisher: Harvard University Press

Who of us cannot remember the pain and humiliation of being rejected by our classmates? However thick-skinned or immune to such assaults we may become as adults
Potential Images
Language: en
Pages: 312
Authors: Dario Gamboni
Categories: Ambiguity
Type: BOOK - Published: 2002 - Publisher: Reaktion Books

In Potential Images Dario Gamboni explores ambiguity in modern art, considering images that rely to a great degree on a projected or imaginative response from v
Man, Play, and Games
Language: en
Pages: 228
Authors: Roger Caillois
Categories: Games & Activities
Type: BOOK - Published: 2001 - Publisher: University of Illinois Press

According to Roger Caillois, play is an occasion of pure waste. In spite of this - or because of it - play constitutes an essential element of human social and
Why We Play
Language: en
Pages: 343
Authors: Roberte Hamayon
Categories: Electronic books
Type: BOOK - Published: 2016 - Publisher: Hau

Play is one of humanity's straightforward yet deceitful ideas: though the notion is unanimously agreed upon to be universal, used for man and animal alike, noth
The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter
Language: en
Pages: 176
Authors: Vivian Gussin PALEY
Categories: Education
Type: BOOK - Published: 2009-06-30 - Publisher: Harvard University Press

How does a teacher begin to appreciate and tap the rich creative resources of the fantasy world of children? What social functions do story playing and storytel