Subjectivity and children’s play: the conceptual legacy of Fernando González Rey in early childhood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


González Rey declared in post Ph.D. research that, “My studies on personality and motivation had led me to the topic of subjectivity…” (González Rey, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 45:419–439, 2014, p. 432). In Fernando’s quest to re-theorise subjectivity and capture the generative character of emotions as the genesis of new psychological systems, he introduced new concepts—subjective senses and subjective configurations. As powerful theoretical concepts, he gifted the international community with a legacy (González Rey et al. (Eds.). Theory of Subjectivity: New Perspectives Within Social and Educational Research, Springer, The Netherlands, 2019) that has opened up new directions in research. In this chapter, I contribute to the now well-trodden pathway created by Fernando by discussing imagination, emotions and play in relation to early childhood education. In play children make meaning as they move closer to reality, exploring rules and roles (as social and societal reproductions), at the same time as developing their own storylines (as creative and symbolic productions). The theoretical debt to González Rey’s work is shown in this chapter through studying how development in play can be conceptualised as a dynamic system of social relations rather than as a collection of psychological functions. It is argued that, play acts as a mirror image of the symbolic processes, social relations and emotionally imaginative (re)configurations of the subjective character of three and four-year-old children’s experiences and psychological operations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheory of Subjectivity from a Cultural-Historical Standpoint
EditorsDaniel Magalhães Goulart, Albertina Mitjáns Martínez, Megan Adams
Place of PublicationSingapore Singapore
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789811614170
ISBN (Print)9789811614163, 9789811614194
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Cultural-Historical Research
ISSN (Print)2520-1530
ISSN (Electronic)2520-1549

Cite this