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Title:Understanding the boundaries of make-believe: An ethnographic case study of pretend play among Korean children in a U.S. community
Author(s):Jo, Yong-Hwan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Troike, Rudolph C.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Education, Sociology of
Education, Early Childhood
Education, Elementary
Abstract:This study investigated pretend play among a group of Korean children in an American community, with the aim of understanding the boundaries of make-believe by which the children separate "reality" from "fantasy." The study focused on four questions: (a) What is the nature of the conceptual/behavioral boundaries of make-believe activities? (b) How are these boundaries conceived and perceived among the children? (c) How are these boundaries constructed, negotiated, and maintained in concrete contexts of pretend play? and (d) How are these boundaries related to other aspects of the children's lives?
The subjects were 16 Korean children, five to seven years of age, who with their graduate student parents were temporary residents of the U.S. Interactions among the children in natural play settings were observed over a period of 15 months, and were recorded in field notes, on audiotape, and on videotape. The children's "emic" perspectives on "play" and "pretense" were elicited during ethnographic interviews, which included having them view videotaped play sessions.
The following general conclusions were drawn from the findings: (a) the boundaries of children's pretend play are framed according to two qualifying principles, the "reality basis" and the "fantasy ceiling"; (b) gender and age constitute two important perceptual/behavioral constraints operating in the children's pretend play, perhaps reflecting aspects of adult Korean culture; (c) the boundaries of make-believe are constituted and constantly negotiated in accordance with two guiding principles, here termed the "cooperation rule" and the "egalitarian principle"; (d) in contradiction to many play theories, which have emphasized the "disorderly" nature of children's play, these children in pretend play were found to conform to clear rules of order, many of which they created and shared among themselves. The previous failure to discern order is attributed to the cognitive and phenomenological estrangement of adult observers from the cultural world of childhood.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Jo, Yong-Hwan
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9010901
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9010901

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