ERIC Number: ED405106
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996
Reference Count: N/A
"They Can't Even Play Right!" Cultural Myopia in the Analysis of Play--Cultural Perspectives on Human Development.
Meier, Terry; Murrell, Peter C., Jr.
Using the framework of cultural context analysis, this paper examines how cultural myopia can lead to inaccurate generalizations regarding play and development among children in diverse sociocultural groups in the United States. The paper argues that analyses drawing causal connections between playing with particular toys or in certain ways and the development of specific behaviors and attitudes are too simplistic. Play with action figures by working-class children of color is misinterpreted because analysis focuses on the manifest symbols and aggression and underplays children's understanding of the objects as symbols and how they are used. Careful analysis of play should not impose one's own meanings on to props, such as assuming that Barbie dolls are objects signifying sex identification. Mental representations drawn upon in play include rules, behavioral codes, and social constraints from the social and cultural context of the child. Although Vygotskian and Piagetian theories proposed invention and internalization as keys in children's cognitive development, neither addressed the specific social and cultural context of cognitive development. Discursive psychology is a perspective focusing on the communicative context which considers children's uses of signs to understanding the development of their thinking. Practitioners and researchers need to consider more carefully the signs and symbols used in play, reflect on biases as observers, and begin to view play as the use that children make of symbols. The concern should not be the props or toys themselves, but rather, how children are socialized into particular uses of the props in play. (KDFB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A