Man, Play and Games
According to Roger Caillois, play is "an occasion of pure waste: waste of time, energy, ingenuity, skill, and often of money." In spite of this--or because of it--play constitutes an essential element of human social and spiritual development.
In this classic study, Caillois defines play as a free and voluntary activity that occurs in a pure space, isolated and protected from the rest of life. Play is uncertain, since the outcome may not be foreseen, and it is governed by rules that provide a level playing field for all participants. In its most basic form, play consists of finding a response to the opponent's action--or to the play situation--that is free within the limits set by the rules.
Caillois qualifies types of games-- according to whether competition, chance, simulation, or vertigo (being physically out of control) is dominant--and ways of playing, ranging from the unrestricted improvisation characteristic of children's play to the disciplined pursuit of solutions to gratuitously difficult puzzles. Caillois also examines the means by which games become part of daily life and ultimately contribute to various cultures their most characteristic customs and institutions.
Presented here in Meyer Barash's superb English translation, Man, Play and Games is a companion volume to Caillois's Man and the Sacred.
"Well worth the attention of every sociologist interested in the relationship of culture to play."--American Sociological Review
"A book to be read for ideas."--American Journal of Sociology
"An excellently conceived work."--Social Forces
To order online:
To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)
Art from Amazonian Ecuador
Dorothea S. Whitten and Norman E. Whitten Jr.
Edited by Jack Kugelmass
Edited by J. Lawrence Witzleben
Youth Homelessness in South Africa
Violence, History, and Memory in Amazonia
Edited by Drid Williams and Brenda Farnell
Rosa De Jorio
Finding Community in the Bleachers
Emotions and Women's Health in Bolivia
The Cultural Politics of Late Socialism
Hip Hop and Christianity in Kenya
Creole Rappers and Citizenship in Portugal
Roderick N. Labrador