In this article, the authors argue for a greater understanding of children’s play across cultures through better integration of scientific thinking about the developed and developing societies, through consideration of socialization beliefs and goals, and, finally, through the use of more complex models in research investigations. They draw on theoretical propositions in anthropology and psychology to describe and interpret the meaning of parent-child play activities in the context of everyday socialization practices in societies in various stages of economic development.
Theoretical Considerations and Cultural Perspectives
Two theoretical perspectives on psychocultural processes in childhood socialisation that have been useful in studying and interpreting play phenomena in diverse cultural settings have their roots in both psychology and anthropology. The early twentieth-century Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky and the American anthropologists John and Beatrice Whiting were forerunners in stressing the primary importance of the social context and cultural processes (e.g., parentchild practices, belief systems) in interpreting the meaning of children’s social activities and play behaviours (Vygotsky 1978; Whiting and Edwards 1988; Whiting and Whiting 1975).