Play and Democracy : Philosophical Perspectives book cover
1st Edition

Play and Democracy
Philosophical Perspectives

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 17, 2021
ISBN 9780367641276
December 17, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
304 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book explores the complex and multi-layered relationships between democracy and play, presenting important new theoretical and empirical research. It builds new paradigmatic bridges between philosophical enquiry and fields of application across the arts, political activism, children’s play, education and political science.

Play and Democracy addresses four principal themes. Firstly, it explores how the relationship between play and democracy can be conceptualized and how it is mirrored in questions of normativity, ethics and political power. Secondly, it examines different aspects of play in urban spaces, such as activism, aesthetic experience, happenings, political carnivals and performances. Thirdly, it offers examples and analyses of how playful artistic performances can offer democratic resistance to dominant power. And finally, it considers the paradoxes of play in both developing democratic sensibilities and resisting power in education. These themes are explored and interrogated in chapters covering topics such as aesthetic practice, pedagogy, diverse forms of activism, and urban experience, where play and playfulness become arenas in which to create the possibility of democratic practice and change.

Adding extra depth to our understanding of the significance of play as a political, cultural and social power, this book is fascinating reading for any serious student or researcher with an interest in play, philosophy, politics, sociology, arts, sport or education.

Table of Contents

1     How Play Matters for Democracy

Petr Urban and Alice Koubová


Part I: Play, Normativity and Contesting Democracy


2     Theatre and its Discontents

Tony Fisher


3     Democracy, Power and Powerlessness of Art

Alice Koubová


4     Can Role-Playing be Wrong? An Analysis of the Normativity of Play from the Perspective of the Enactive Cognitive Science

Zuzanna Rucińska


Part II: Urban Spaces and Playful Activism


5     On Unforeseen Constellations and Constant Flux: Dialectical Activism and Metamorphoses

Benjamin Heim Shepard


6     The City as Spielraum: Play, Aesthetic Experience and Politics in Urban Space

Nélio Conceição


7     Can I Join In? Playful Performance and Alternative Political Realities

       Tom Drayton


8     Velvet Carnival: Play and Embodied Reflexivity

       Martin Pehal


Part III: Playful Artistic Performance as Resistance to Dominant Power


9     The Gift of Silence: Towards an Anthropology of Jazz Improvisation as Neuro-Resistance

Martin E. Rosenberg


10   ¡Viva el Juego! Play in Latin American Performance Art

       Rainy C. Demerson


11   Life in Cinematic Bodies at Play: The Example of Daisies (1966)

       Elena Pachner Sarno


Part IV: Paradoxes of Play and Democracy in Education


12   Schooling the New Sensibility: Communal Philosophical Dialogue, Play, and Social Democracy

David Kennedy


13   Play and the Pedagogical Apparatus

       Einar Sundsdal and Maria Øksnes


14   Child’s Play: Inadvertent Tactical Resistance and Unofficial Power

       Lucy Benson


15   Playful Democracy, Democratic Playfulness and Philosophical Dialogue(s): Reflections from Two Conference Ethnographers

Malcolm MacLean and Wendy Russell

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Alice Koubová is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the Czech Academy of Sciences, and Associate Professor and Vice-Dean for Research at the Theatre Faculty, Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic. Her main research interests range from performance philosophy to relational ethics and policies in art. She combines her theoretical research with dramaturgical practice and cooperation with public institutions.


Petr Urban is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic. His work focuses on moral and political theory of care, public ethics and phenomenological philosophy. He led a project on ethical culture in the Czech civil service and has been engaged in collaboration with governmental institutions including revising related policy documents in the Czech Republic.


Wendy Russell is an independent researcher into children’s play and playwork and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. Her research focuses on supporting children’s right to play, particularly in terms of the politics of space, policy and ethics. She is a co-founder of the biennial international Philosophy at Play conferences and on the editorial board of the International Journal of Play.


Malcolm MacLean is a settler scholar and interdisciplinary historian whose research focuses on the political, cultural and social experience and identities associated with sport and play. His work focuses on developing a ‘subaltern view’, emphasizing ordinary experiences of cultural and social life, with an emphasis on power, resistance, struggle and the identities related to those experiences. He is a co-founder of the biennial Philosophy at Play conferences. He maintains academic affiliations at The University of Queensland, Australia, De Montfort University, UK and the University of Gibraltar.