Culture and Pretend Play

Zulu Children at Play
  • Hans G. Furth


From a global perspective, the particular social pretend play analyzed and interpreted in the two previous chapters reflects the unique cultural context of the late 20th-century middle-class United States. This fact alone does not invalidate conclusions concerning children’s general pretense competencies as long as no rigid age norms or qualitative criteria are proposed. Nevertheless, two points would seem highly culture-specific in today’s American pretend play. First, a majority of U.S. middle-class children get together daily in adult-supervised preschool settings where pretend plays are regular activities for which space, props, and audience are provided. Moreover, well beyond infancy, pretend activity is actively and regularly encouraged at home, not merely in the sense that parents provide toys and they themselves play pretense with their children, but also that many parents are an accommodating audience in front of whom children may play arbitrary pretend roles. In the following paragraph I quote a few authorities to indicate how profoundly different and relatively rare the USA child situation is.


Pretend Play Adult Activity Phone Conversation Preschool Setting Formal Thinking 
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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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