Article

Comparing and Extending Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Understandings of Play

Artin Göncü and Suzanne Gaskins

in The Oxford Handbook of the Development of Play

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195393002
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195393002.013.0005

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Comparing and Extending Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Understandings of Play

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  • Developmental Psychology
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This chapter presents a comparison of Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories of symbolic play and provides an extension of them. By comparing these theories on the basis of their conceptualizations of symbolic play with regard to its origins, immediate functions, and future outcomes, we reach the conclusion that symbolic play is an activity of interpretation. We then provide an extension of their theories of play by indicating a blind spot shared by both Piaget and Vygotsky: both theorists considered symbolic play as primarily individual rather than fundamentally social and cultural activity. Going beyond Piaget (1945) and Vygotsky (1967), we argue that symbolic play’s developmental origins, functions, and consequences are structured by children’s social and cultural lives as well as by individual children themselves, and that a sociocultural approach is necessary to understand children’s play fully. We conclude with some educational implications of this proposed view that integrates personal, social, and cultural engagement.

Keywords: Symbolic play; Piaget; Vygotsky; intersubjectivity; cultural differences in play; educational significance of play

Article.  7670 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology

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