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Imagination in children entering culture

Jovchelovitch, Sandra ORCID: 0000-0002-0073-2792, Priego-Hernandez, Jacqueline and Glăveanu, Vlad Petre (2017) Imagination in children entering culture. In: Zittoun, Tania and Glăveanu, Vlad Petre, (eds.) Handbook of Imagination and Culture. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 9780190468729

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Although children are born in a world of already established cultural practices and social representations, the appropriation and internalisation of culture is not a task of reproduction but one of imaginative construction. The cultural development of the child offers an empirical opportunity to examine the role of the imagination in the practices whereby human children enter culture. In this chapter we focus on three such practices – care, play, and storytelling – to observe the imagination at work. We start by revisiting understandings of the imagination and propose a positive view that sees it as the human capacity to go beyond the immediate situation and play with possible realities. We suggest that the interplay between presence and absence, grounded in the interactions between self and other established by culture, is the defining feature of the imagination. Drawing on our research on children’s representations of the public sphere we explore the complexity of children’s imagination and propose a typology of engagement with the absent: the not yet there, impinged by anticipation and desire; the nowhere, pertaining to the fictional and the fantastic; and the elsewhere, characterised by absent elements the child is aware of through direct or indirect experience. Throughout the chapter, we are guided by the question of how these types of engagement with absence, which are central to the imagination, play out in practices of care, play, and storytelling. This exploration helps us understand the imagination as both an engine and a consequence of development, central for the cognitive, emotional and cultural development of the child and for the development of culture itself. By imagining the world both as what it is and as different from the way it is, we show that 1) children’s imaginative engagement guides the micro-genesis of cognition and macro-processes of cultural development and 2) it establishes the freedom to create as a key process in the realisation of self and society.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2016 10:49
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:19

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