License to Play: The Ludic in Japanese Culture

Hardback: $45.00
ISBN-13: 9780824839406
Published: October 2014

Additional Information

224 pages | 12 b&w images
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  • About the Book
  • Play is one of the most powerful cultural forces in contemporary Japan and in other late modern societies. In this notable contribution to our understanding of play, Michal Daliot-Bul explores the intricate and dynamic transformations of culture and play (asobi) in Japan. Along the way, she takes readers on a theoretically informed journey to better comprehend what makes play a significant cultural function, asking such questions as “How can we explain the dialectics between play as a biological instinct and play as a culturally specific activity? What defines the best player? How is creativity related to play? What is the difference between play and playfulness? Are some cultures more play-oriented than others, and if so, why?” Daliot-Bul argues that the cultural meaning of play and its influence on sociocultural life are not inherent properties of a fixed, universal behavior called play but rather are conditioned by changing cultural contexts and competing social ideologies.

    Spanning Japan’s premodern period to the twenty-first century, the extent and expressions of play described in this book become thought-provoking lenses through which to view Japanese social dynamics and cultural complexities. As she approaches the post-industrialized 1970s in Japan, Daliot-Bul’s narrative also explores urban consumer culture as a system for organizing daily life, the tension between institutional and contemporary popular cultures, the production of new gender identities, and the cultural construction of urban space.

    License to Play is an insightful and engaging work that will appeal widely to scholars and students specializing in cultural studies, cultural anthropology, and Japanese studies. Given the global fascination with Japanese popular culture and with play-like pleasures in late consumer cultures, the book will also find a readership among those interested in Japan in general and the universal phenomenon of play.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Michal Daliot-Bul, Author

  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • Michal Daliot-Bul presents a theoretically ambitious cultural history of play (asobi) in Japan . . . [and] demonstrate with fascinating scholarship is the significant imbrication of play and the more sober realities of politics and economy and the everyday routines of social life.
      —Journal of Japanese Studies
    • This book offers an highly interesting reading of the cultural shifts sweeping across Japan’s modern landscape and comes recommended to those looking to broaden their perspective on the conceptualisation and evolving practices related to Japanese asobi.
      —Asian Journal of Social Science