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playany activity which is voluntary, gives pleasure, and has no apparent goal other than enjoyment.
A classical conceptualization of the play form in social life is Simmel's concept of SOCIABILITY. However, although to achieve its purpose sociability ideally must be divorced from ulterior 'serious‘ purpose, the importance of the functions served by sociability and play are left in no doubt. See also HOMO LUDENS, LEISURE, SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT.
The functions of play within child socialization are equally an important issue. Play is widely seen as essential for physical development, for learning skills and social behaviour and for personality development (see Millar, 1968, for full discussion). Play therapy is used as a technique for understanding young children's psychological problems and helping to resolve them (see KLEIN).
a type of nonproductive activity motivated not by its result but by the process itself. Play has existed throughout man’s entire history, interweaving with magic, rituals and cults, sports, military and other training, and art, particularly in its dramatic forms. Play is also characteristic of the higher animals. Cultural historians, ethnologists, psychologists (especially child psychologists), historians of religion, scholars of the arts, and researchers in sports and military affairs all study play. In mathematical game theory, play is defined as the mathematical model of a situation of conflict. The origin of play was considered to lie in magic and cult needs or in the innate biological necessities of the organism; it was also deduced from labor processes (G. V. Plekhanov, Letters Without an Address).
Play is connected to both training and relaxation because it simulates conflicts that are difficult or impossible to solve in the practical sphere of activity. Therefore, play is not only physical training but also the means of psychological preparation for future life situations. As an abstract model of conflict, play is easily turned into a form for expressing social contradictions—for example, the transformation of sports “fans” at the stadium into political parties in medieval Byzantium or children’s games as models of social conflicts in the adult world.
Play is related to art through the psychological orientation of the player, who simultaneously believes and does not believe in the reality of the conflict being performed, and through the corresponding dual character of his behavior. The question of the correlation of play and art was raised by I. Kant and given philosophical and anthropological substantiation by F. Schiller, who saw in play a specifically human form of vital activity: “a man plays only when he is in the full sense of the word a man, and he is fully a man only when he plays” (Sobr. soch., vol. 6, Moscow, 1957, p. 302). The genetic connection of art and play is likewise noted in positivistic conceptions of the origin of art —for example, in A.N. Veselovskii’s theory of syncretic primitive art and of the origin of art in rite and pageant.”
Both play and art, directed at mastering the world, possess a common property—they propose solutions not in the practical but in the conditional symbolic sphere, which can be used then as a model for practical behavior in the real world. There is, however, an essential difference between play and art. Play represents the mastery of a skill, a form of training, and a modeling of an activity and is characterized by the presence of a system of rules.
IU. M. LOTMAN
The German philosopher and psychologist K. Groos (1899) developed the first fundamental concept of play in psychology: in the play of animals, he saw the preliminary adaptation (“pre-exercise”) of the instincts to the conditions of future life. Before Groos, the English philosopher H. Spencer had viewed play as a manifestation of “surplus energy.” The theory of the Austrian psychologist K. Biihler on “functional pleasure” as the internal subjective motive for play was an important amendment to Groos’ teaching. The Dutch zoopsychologist F. Buytendijk proposed a theory opposed to Groos’: he thought that, rather than instincts, it was the more general primordial drives, which are beyond instincts, that underlay play (the drive for liberation, the drive to merge with one’s surroundings, and the drive for repetition). In the psychoanalytical conception of the Austrian physician S. Freud, play is regarded as wish fulfillment.
In Soviet psychology, the approach to play as a sociohistorical phenomenon was developed by L.S. Vygotskii, A.N. Leont’ev, and D.B. El’konin. Children’s games, in particular, are regarded as a way of including the child in the world of human actions and relationships. Children’s games arise at the stage of social development when highly evolved forms of labor prevent the child’s direct participation in labor at the same time as his upbringing creates a yearning for a joint life with adults.
REFERENCESPlekhanov, G.V. Soch., vol. 14. Moscow, 1925. Pages 54–64.
Leont’ev, A.N. Problemy razvitiia psikhiki. Moscow, 1971.
Groos, K. Die Spiele der Tiere. Jena, 1896.
Groos, K. Die Spiele des Menschen. Jena, 1899.
Biihler, K. Die Krise der Psychologic Jena, 1929.
Buytendijk, F.J. Wesen und Sinn des Spiels. Berlin, 1934.
Huizinga, j. Homo ludens. London, 1949.
I. B. DAUNIS
["An Introduction to the Play Program", J. Chadabe ete al, Computer Music J 2,1 (1978)].