The Future of Play Theory

A Multidisciplinary Inquiry into the Contributions of Brian Sutton-Smith

Edited by Anthony D. Pellegrini

Subjects: Early Childhood Studies
Series: SUNY series, Children's Play in Society
Paperback : 9780791426425, 306 pages, August 1995
Hardcover : 9780791426418, 306 pages, August 1995

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Table of contents

Anthony D. Pellegrini

Part I: Play As Progress

1. Play, Ethology, and Education: A Personal Account
Peter K. Smith

2. Animal Play, Games of Angels, Biology, and Brian
Robert Fagen

3. Children's Play and Adult Leisure
Garry Chick and Lynn A. Barnett

Part II: Play as Power

4. Competitive Play on the Plains: An Analysis of Games and Warfare Among Native American Warrior Societies, 1800-1850
John W. Loy and Graham L. Hesketh

5. Boys' Rough-and-Tumble Play and Social Competence: Contemporaneous and Longitudinal Relations
Anthony D. Pellegrini

6. Aggressive Toy Play
Jeffrey Goldstein

Part III: Play as Fantasy

7. Toys and Stories
Greta G. Fein

8. The Promotion and Marketing of Toys: Time to Rethink the Paradox?
Stephen Kline

9. Imaginative Play in Childhood: Precursor of Subjunctive Thoughts, Daydreaming, and Adult Pretending Games
Jerome L. Singer

10. Social Pretend with Mother and Sibling: Individual Differences and Social Understanding
Lisa M. Youngblade and Judy Dunn

Part IV: Play as Self

11. Representing Children's Play: Anthropologists at Work
Helen B. Schwartzman

12. Past Play: Relics, Memory, and History
Bernard Mergen

Conclusion: The Persuasive Rhetorics of Play
Brian Sutton-Smith

Appendix: A List of Brian Sutton-Smith's Play-Related Publications
F.F. McMahon

This book looks at the impact of play on child development.


This multidimensional book looks at the current status of play theory across the disciplines, literally from anthropology to zoology. The authors examine play phenomena from four perspectives, Play as Progress; Play as Power, Play as Fantasy; and Play as Self. The volume is concluded with a challenge for future study by Brian Sutton-Smith.

With the wealth of information gathered here, this book will serve as an invaluable reference tool, textbook, and source of inspiration for all those interested in the fascinating study of children's play.

Anthony D. Pellegrini is Professor of Early Education at the University of Georgia. He is the author of School Recess and Playground Behavior: Educational and Developmental Roles, also published by SUNY Press, and the editor of the SUNY series, Children's Play in Society.


"Brian Sutton-Smith is the philosopher's philosopher in the area of play, culture, and development. He is an inspirational and tireless leader and has been for quite some time now. This book will serve us well as we continue to grapple with this most complex of phenomenon. The book is extremely rich in empirical integrations, interesting hypotheses, and speculative musings that will keep researchers across a variety of disciplines challenged for years to come." — James E. Johnson, The Pennsylvania State University