Coconstructing Social Reality

  • Hans G. Furth


In this chapter we continue the societal interpretation of the children’s social pretend play, “The Royal Ball,” described in Chapter 1. This time we focus on the play as a spontaneous coconstruction of shared realities and ask questions about the different modes of these realities. Elaborating on Goffman’s (1974) concept of frame analysis, we introduce a coding scheme for pretend play in which we distinguish the categories of sense and reference. This coding scheme is applied to the discourse of the entire play session. In contrast to an assumed simple pretense-reality dichotomy, our analysis specifies a rich spectrum of reality modes, from deeply engrossed play actions to nonplay interactions. The interweaving of the different reality modes is shown to carry the in-frame play theme to completion, even as concerns of interpersonal power continually impel the children’s interactions partly or fully out-of-frame. Where previously we pointed out general societal features in the girl’s play, here we document the remarkable dramatic quality of their reality construction. In conclusion, the theoretical view of the preceding chapter is advanced regarding the society-instituting function of pretense and imaginary play.


Play Action Unit Code Reality Mode Frame Analysis Pretend Play 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans G. Furth
    • 1
  1. 1.The Catholic University of AmericaUSA

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