Rhetorics of Play (Sutton-Smith)
The term rhetorics of play comes from Brian Sutton-Smith's book The Ambiguity of Play . In it he defines rhetoric as “a persuasive discourse or implicit narrative… adopted by members of a particular group affiliation or discipline to lend validity to their beliefs and interpretations.” He divides play theories into the ancient Western rhetorics of fate, power, communal identity, and frivolity, and the more recent Western rhetorics of progress, the imaginary, and the concept of the self, and he writes about the subjective influences on these rhetorics. His central thesis is that play is difficult to understand because it is ambiguous, and each approach to play instigates ambiguities. He also says the different rhetorics seldom convey play in all its forms. Chapters 2 and 3 of Sutton-Smith's book deal with the rhetoric of progress. Sutton-Smith says the disciplines of biology, psychology, and education use this rhetoric, and its chief proponents ...