Play, Theories of

Theorising play in Western social thought has been guided by questions such as, What are the essential characteristics of play? What counts as play? Why do humans play? And what is play for? The answers to these questions have varied significantly given that there are countless kinds of play, an equally diverse range of players, and an increasing number of epistemological and methodological approaches to the study of play. For instance, play has been studied in relation to the body, behaviour, cognition, emotion, identity, gender, communication, experience, culture, power, and more, and in each case, the word ‘play’ is used to describe a range of different activities and outcomes. Despite significant differences, one thing theories of play commonly share is a strong commitment to the ...

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