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We have established a dialogue between these authors who concatenate to each other in the design of the toy is a cultural object, which allows the subject to the possibility of learning their culture from their contact with it.
We identify the convergences and divergences between these authors, showing a plurality of meanings related to the concept of toy, without disregarding their theoretical constructs.
Toys are a subject of study in different areas of knowledge, such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, history, education, among others. The works developed in these areas expose a plurality of meanings referring to the concept of toy, which, however, engender a certain dichotomy when presenting it sometimes as a cultural artifact that can be conceived outside the act of playing, sometimes as an object that allows the individual to represent, i.
Language itself and its polysemous character, with its own codes of operation, can assign certain and distinct meanings in more specific or general moments, possibly generating certain misunderstandings about the concept of toy.
It should be noted that, in the present work, we do not understand this plurality of conceptions as a problem; on the contrary, we regard it as something common and present in any cultural construction.
Moreover, we argue that a deeper reflection on the concept of toy is essential, so that possible dialogues between authors and intellectuals are not compromised by disregarding their theoretical constructions and engendering simplistic and decontextualized preconceptions.
The choice of these three authors is due to the need to analyze three different toy paradigms that are commonly debated in various articles and studies on the act of playing, toys, early childhood education and childhood. This analysis was divided into three sections, one for each author.
Subsequently, we establish a dialogue between these three authors who, despite having diverging conceptions of toy, share the understanding that the toy is a cultural object, which allows subjects to learn about their own culture from their contact with it. Thus, in this article, we critically analyze the conceptions of the authors in question, highlighting the diverging and converging theoretical points, in order to obtain a better understanding of the concept of toy.
Walter Benjamin was an important German philosopher, literary critic and writer of the first half of the twentieth century. He devoted part of his studies to pedagogical issues, games and toys, and childhood. Benjamin states that the world of infantile perception is pervaded everywhere by the vestiges of the older generation. Why, basically,. Likewise, their toys do not bear witness to an autonomous and segregated life, but are a silent dialogue of signs between children and people.
From this perspective, the author argues that it is impossible for children to make toys in a fully fantastical context. He bases himself on the assumption, although latent in part of his texts, that toys can only happen within a certain culture. As an example, Benjamin infers that adults are the main providers of toys to children, and even states that.
In addition, Benjamin makes pertinent criticisms to the role of children before toys. For him, as toys are still excessively considered a creation for or of children, the act of playing has been conceived from the perspective of adults, solely as a product of imitation. According to this author, it is in the small everyday objects of childhood that the social aspect manifests itself, in dimensions that extend from culture to the unconscious individual.
According to the author, few studies have focused on the subject, as it is considered unimportant to society. In addition, he argues that the contribution of psychologists cannot be ruled out. However, for him, the object of study of works in the field of psychology is no longer the toy, but rather the effect of its use on the child; i. In this sense, a study that values toys must analyze the representations and images that give it meaning and senses within a specific social system.
The author establishes some categories for this kind of analysis about toys. The first has to do with their function potential use in relation to their representation social meaning produced by their image. We can surely say that the function of toys is being played with. But by affirming this, we define a precise use. The act of playing does not belong to the order of that which is nonfunctional.
Behind the act of playing, it is very difficult to find a function that could be accurately described: it escapes any precise function. If, on the one hand, it is difficult to discover the function of toys and of the act of playing, on the other, it may be considered that it is precisely in this act that the representations of toys become clearer.
As toys are imbued with these representations, they stimulate the opening of new possibilities during the act of playing, making its symbolic universe more dynamic. Thus, producing a toy implies transforming a representation into an object. Although the author places great emphasis on the symbolic sphere of toys, the material issue is also addressed, not in isolation, but by constantly associating it with their function and representation.
For him, meaning appears, above all, through material expression, i. The shapes, drawings, sounds and colors of toys are infused with a whole set of codes and varied representations built within society. In this way, it is possible to understand, for example, the gendered differences between certain toys, between dolls and toy cars, between pink and blue, between cartoons and the many other constructions that influence the representations and uses of toys by girls and boys, a theme that is discussed in other texts by the author 4.
One last aspect addressed by the author and that is directly related to the themes discussed so far has to do with the possibility of cultural impregnation provided by toys, as they grant children access to a whole set of representations and images built by the media and society itself. As already mentioned, it is in the act of playing that the meanings attributed to toys can be manipulated. It is above all a confrontation in which the child retains certain meanings, eliminating others to replace them with new meanings.
Learning is active in the sense that it does not conform to images, but rather, learns to manipulate, transform, and even practically deny them. Their construction is related to society, the media and everyday interactions, but especially to the use of the object during the act of playing construction of play culture.
Belarussian psychologist Lev S. Vigotski was one of the leading names in the history of psychology. In other words, the author was concerned with analyzing the effect on the object, not in a unilateral but dialectical sense, in which the effect on the world through the toy is returned, i.
In general terms, the action or activity — playing, in this case — is a process of transformation dialectic that gives rise to needs and motives, engendering other structurally new activities different ways of playing and, above all, promoting the emergence of new mental formations.
From this perspective, Vigotski was also concerned with investigating what makes children play and get involved in an imaginary playful sphere during part of their childhood. He aimed to identify the needs of children in order to systematize and understand what motivates their actions in this case, the reason for playing. In short, the relationships established with toys allow individuals to act in a certain cognitive sphere, manipulating the meanings of objects and of their own actions.
Thus, the act of playing is concatenated into three intrinsic categories: objects toys , actions playing and semiotic mediation learning from the other or through imitation , allowing imagination to emerge, which, for Vigotski:. Like all functions of consciousness, it originally arises from action. Based on this, it can be inferred that in an imaginary situation pretend play , the child acts in an imaginary world in which the situation is determined by the meaning attributed to the act of playing, and not by the objects present.
By way of example: a child who is motivated to pretend play as a pilot looks for a cardboard box or something equivalent to represent a car with object present, toy. Regarding the child-toy relationship, Vigotski , p. Children do not behave purely symbolically before toys; rather, they wish to and fulfill their desires, allowing the basic categories of reality to pass through their experience. Children, by wishing to, fulfill their desires.
By thinking, they act. Internal and external actions are inseparable: imagination, interpretation and will are internal processes driven by external action. Therefore, the imaginary situation of the relationship with the toy already has certain rules of behavior, although the game may not have formal rules a priori. While playing, children can be pilots, teachers, soldiers, knights, etc. Moreover, the rule that emerges from their relationship with toys is not fantastical; it has a historical-cultural basis that can be re-signified in the act of playing.
For Vigotski , p. Thus, the meaning of the action becomes the core, and the objects are either relegated to a subordinate position or suppressed. However, this process of deconstruction, reconstruction and transgression is not individual; it involves a broader cultural construction and, equally, the role of the other in this dynamic process of designation of meanings.
The three authors infer that the toy is a historical-cultural object that allows subjects to learn about their own culture from their contact with it.
Another convergence between them can be identified in the understanding of the toy as a result of inter-individual relations; in other words, toys are structurally social, since they are elements of the culture to which they belong.
Moreover, toys have multiple meanings and uses, generating a specific form of communication through which games are triggered.
Another very interesting theoretical contiguity concerns the imaginary situation. In relation to the differences, unlike the other authors, Vigotski points out that toys allow both an immersion into and a transgression of reality. This twofold aspect is not immutable; on the contrary, it is dialectical. Likewise, he states that children create their own play culture, based on this relationship.
As for Benjamin, he does not intend to analyze the twofold aspect developed by Vigotski. Moreover, he argues that the act of playing means liberation, because it allows children to create their own world. His idea of liberation would be a denial of the real world. Another facet of the toy or the act of playing that seems to generate some disagreements relates to its association with pleasure.
A final point of disagreement concerns the conception of toy as object. For Benjamin, children are able to play even when the toy is not physically present; everything can serve as a toy, because even without the object built within society , something can be used to replace it. In the absence of a toy car, a shoe box is used, for example.
While Benjamin understands the toy more as an object in itself material , the other two intellectuals analyze the effect on the object. The former believes that, in the act of playing, a toy may be necessary, but not fundamental, since the child would be motivated by the need to act in relation to the broader world of adults.
Therefore, the act of playing has its own internal dynamics, which however presupposes an exchange with the outside world. The three authors understand the toy as a historical-cultural object that enables children to learn about their own culture and act in the world. They also infer that toys are the result of inter-individual relationships, making them structurally social elements of the culture in which they are inserted.
Vigotski, for example, does not limit himself to toys, but extends his reflections to the process of cultural construction, and the role of the other in the dynamics of designation of meaning semiotic mediation. This may be a point of dialogue or complementarity between the authors, and deserves further consideration. Despite the differences presented, the three authors have great relevance for education and early childhood education, as they analyze the relationships between childhood, culture, toys and learning.
We consider that this work contributes to broaden the understanding about the concept of toy from three distinct theoretical references, showing some possibilities of dialogue. On the other hand, there are toys that support or are essential in a game, but are secondary to the action playing , which is what is prioritized. As an example, we may analyze the child who uses a shoe box to represent a truck.
This child is not playing with a shoebox, but rather with a toy truck toy-action. Benjamin, W. Brinquedos e jogos. O brinquedo, objeto extremo. In Brinquedo e cultura 8a ed. A boneca industrializada, espelho da sociedade. Vigotski, L. O papel do brinquedo no desenvolvimento.
Brinquedo e cultura