8-1 | The Handbook of the Study of Play

Book Review

The Handbook of the Study of Play

James E. Johnson, Scott G. Eberle, Thomas S. Henricks, and David Kuschner, eds.
New York: Rowman & Littlefield; and Rochester, NY: The Strong, 2015. Notes, epilogue, index. 528 pp. $175.00 cloth. ISBN: 9781475807943

by Phillip A. Prager

First Paragraph:

This two-volume publication finally fills a void that play scholars—and those who recognize the primacy of play as a fundamental expression of humanity—have been anticipating with a tremendous sense of urgency for many years. The Handbook of the Study of Play unites the diverse academic disciplines that theorize, research, or apply play—ranging from cognitive, developmental and positive psychology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, ethology, sociology, philosophy, cultural and intellectual history, neuroscience, education, performance, and folklore studies to psychotherapy. Many of these disciplines have traditionally only implicitly devoted themselves to play, such as sociology, which has researched play under the guise of leisure studies. Others, such as psychology, have focused only on children’s play, although we as humans distinguish ourselves as neotenous and retain juvenile characteristics, such as our capacity for play, throughout adulthood—a biological trait we do not share even with chimpanzees.