The social and cultural genesis of collective imagination during infancy

Glykeria Fragkiadaki, Marilyn Fleer, Prabhat Rai

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


    A cultural-historical conception of children's development foregrounds imagination as the key psychological function. Yet, few empirical studies have explored the genesis and motivating conditions for the development of imagination. This paper explores the development of imagination as an inter-psychological activity in infants’ group settings and the early development of imagination as an intra-psychological function. Qualitative data were generated through an educational experiment that drew on a Conceptual PlayWorld: a collective model of practice for the development of play and imagination. Thirteen infants participated in the study. Visual methods were used for digital data collection and analysis. Diverse forms of imagining were mapped. Being in the imaginary situation as a play partner, the teacher introduced an advanced form of imagining into infants’ environment and invited infants to join collective forms of imagining. Infants recognized and responded to the invitations coming from the teacher and their peers and developed a motive orientation to collective imagining. Infants’ collective imagining with the adult was enriched and extended as well as developed in dialectic interrelations generating transformation of the group relations. The outcomes of the study advance theory about the early development of imagination and inform practice about the critical role of imagination in early years.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)100518
    Number of pages12
    JournalLearning, Culture and Social Interaction
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


    • Collective imagination
    • Early years
    • Child development
    • Infancy
    • Play-based settings

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