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Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society
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Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society

Two Volume Set
Edited by:

© 2009 | 1 032 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2009

"This ground-breaking resource is strongly recommended for all libraries and health and welfare institutional depots; essential for university collections, especially those catering to social studies programs."

—Library Journal, STARRED Review

Children and adults spend a great deal of time in activities we think of as "play," including games, sports, and hobbies. Without thinking about it very deeply, almost everyone would agree that such activities are fun, relaxing, and entertaining. However, play has many purposes that run much deeper than simple entertainment. For children, play has various functions such as competition, following rules, accepting defeat, choosing leaders, exercising leadership, practicing adult roles, and taking risks in order to reap rewards. For adults, many games and sports serve as harmless releases of feelings of aggression, competition, and intergroup hostility.

The Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society explores the concept of play in history and modern society in the United States and internationally. Its scope encompasses leisure and recreational activities of children and adults throughout the ages, from dice games in the Roman Empire to video games today. With more than 450 entries, these two volumes do not include coverage of professional sports and sport teams but, instead, cover the hundreds of games played not to earn a living but as informal activity. All aspects of play—from learning to competition, mastery of nature, socialization, and cooperation—are included. Simply enough, this Encyclopedia explores play played for the fun of it!

Key Features

  • Available in both print and electronic formats
  • Provides access to the fascinating literature that has explored questions of psychology, learning theory, game theory, and history in depth
  • Considers the affects of play on child and adult development, particularly on health, creativity, and imagination
  • Contains entries that describe both adult and childhood play and games in dozens of cultures around the world and throughout history
  • Explores the sophisticated analyses of social thinkers such as Huizinga, Vygotsky, and Sutton-Smith, as well as the wide variety of games, toys, sports, and entertainments found around the world
  • Presents cultures as diverse as the ancient Middle East, modern Russia, and China and in nations as far flung as India, Argentina, and France

Key Themes

  • Adult Games
  • Board and Card Games
  • Children's Games
  • History of Play
  • Outdoor Games and Amateur Sports
  • Play and Education
  • Play Around the World
  • Psychology of Play
  • Sociology of Play
  • Toys and Business
  • Video and Online Games

For a subject we mostly consider light-hearted, play as a research topic has generated an extensive and sophisticated literature, exploring a range of penetrating questions. This two-volume set serves as a general, nontechnical resource for academics, researchers, and students alike. It is an essential addition to any academic library.

"....Bottom Line This ground-breaking resource is strongly recommended for all libraries and health and welfare institutional depots; essential for university collections, especially those catering to social studies programs."—Library Journal, STARRED Review

Al Vara
Temple Univ. Lib., Philadelphia
Library Journal

"Offering more than 450 entries written by 130 authors from around the world the sprawling, two-volume Encyclopedia of Play gives newcomers speedy access to many topics that range from the daffy to the deep.  For more experienced hands, the volumes provide topical reminders and organizing cues."

Scott G. Eberle
Storng National Museum of Play
Key features
  • This A-to-Z collection of approximately 450 entries in two volumes is available in both print and electronic formats.
  • Entries include biographies, profiles of play in cultures around the world, historical descriptions, thematic essays, and varied game and leisure activity explanations.
  • Entries on specific games (e.g., backgammon, chess, mah jongg, monopoly) consider such questions as, How do the strategy and tactics of the game relate to the real world? How has the game been played through history? What are the psychological roles of the players? Who are the greatest players and why? Where is the game played? We have not attempted to include coverage of "professional" sports and sport teams but instead have included the thousands of games played, not to earn a living, but to exercise all the aspects of play as an informal activity—from learning, through competition, mastery of nature, socialization, and cooperation.
  • Entries provide access not only to the wide variety of games, toys, sports, and entertainments found around the world but also to the sophisticated analyses of social thinkers, like Huizinga, Vygotsky, and Sutton-Smith, who have considered the topic of play in a new light, going to questions about the very nature of the human condition, as well as its cultural connotations.
  • Entries conclude with Reference/Further Readings and cross-references to related entries.
  • Front matter includes an Introduction by the Editor-in-Chief, a list of articles and contributors, a Reader's Guide grouping related entries thematically, and a Chronology of Play from prehistory to the present.
  • Themes included within the Reader's Guide are:  Psychology of Play, History of Play, Sociology of Play, Board & Card Games, Outdoor Games & Amateur Sports, Children's Games, Adult Games, Toys & Business, Play & Education, Video & Online Games, and Play Around the World.
  • Back matter includes:  a Glossary; a Resource Guide of books, journals, and websites on play; an Appendix of tables and statistics (e.g., hours of leisure time per week in various countries, breakdown of activities by gender, leisure and sports activities by age group, spending on recreation per capita, vacation days around the world, etc.); and a detailed Index.

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ISBN: 9781412966702
$420.00

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.