This chapter examines what it means to play culturally, with particular emphasis on how cultural play can alter the relation between or bridge the gap between socially preferred forms of culture and the wider possibilities for thinking, feeling, and acting. It first considers the ways in which other fields of relationships both express and resist culture's patterning, along with play as childhood socialization. It then discusses three models of the play-culture interrelationships: first, people and groups play within culture; second, people play with or at culture; and third, culture itself is playing and people ad–pt an appropriate, playful style of relating to these processes. It also explores the theories of Roger Caillois, Mikhail Bakhtin, Clifford Geertz, Victor Turner, Don Handelman, and Richard Schechner. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Jacques Derrida's thesis that cultural patterns can be read as texts containing widely diverging trails of meaning, along with Hans-Georg Gadamer's interpretive approach to play.
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