Play and the Human Condition

Author: Thomas S. Henricks
A cutting-edge reappraisal of the causes, contours, and consequences of play
Cloth – $110
Paper – $29
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Cloth: 05/04/2015
Buy the Book Request Desk/Examination Copy Request Review Copy Request Rights or Permissions Request Alternate Format
Book Share

About the Book

In Play and the Human Condition, Thomas Henricks brings together ways of considering play to probe its essential relationship to work, ritual, and communitas. Focusing on five contexts for play--the psyche, the body, the environment, society, and culture--Henricks identifies conditions that instigate play, and comments on its implications for those settings. Offering a general theory of play as behavior promoting self-realization, Henricks articulates a conception of self that includes individual and social identity, particular and transcendent connection, and multiple fields of involvement. Henricks also evaluates play styles from history and contemporary life to analyze the relationship between play and human freedom.

Imaginative and stimulating, Play and the Human Condition shows how play allows us to learn about our qualities and those of the world around us--and in so doing make sense of ourselves.

About the Author

Thomas S. Henricks is the Danieley Professor of Sociology at Elon University and author of Play Reconsidered: Sociological Perspectives on Human Expression.

Also by this author

Play Reconsidered cover


"Play and the Human Condition is a book as ambitious as its title. . . . An erudite reading of the vast tradition of play studies, from sociology and psychology to cultural anthropology. It is also an orginal contribution to understanding play--provocative, informative and enlightening."--American Journal of Play


"Profound and reasonable, accessible and well-written, and wide-ranging while confident of the details of past scholarship and current theory over a range of disciplines. This work will help shape and unify the field of play studies. I have not read its equal; in fact, there is nothing elsewhere quite like it."--Scott G. Eberle, vice president for play studies at The Strong National Museum of Play

"Thomas Henricks provides us with a completely new way of looking at children's play. He skillfully separates out the existing theories and then brings them back together to provide his own unique perspective. This book makes the most significant contribution to the field of play theory since Brian Sutton-Smith's seminal work, The Ambiguity of Play. It is stimulating and challenging, but at the same time most enjoyable to read."--Fraser Brown, author of Rethinking Children's Play

"Students across disciplines will find here a thoughtful analysis of physiological, environmental, psychological, cultural, and social theories about how play changes and sustains people across generations. This timely work addresses the rapidly expanding knowledge and promise of play as well as trends such as consumerism and computer play that potentially diminish the spirit of play and quality of life across societies."--Joe L. Frost, author of Play and Child Development