Play Frames and Social Identities

Contact encounters in a Greek primary school

Vally Lytra | King's College London
ISBN 9789027254078 | EUR 105.00 | USD 158.00
ISBN 9789027291783 | EUR 105.00 | USD 158.00
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This book is a sociolinguistic study of children’s talk and how they interact with one another and their teachers in multilingual, multicultural and multiethnic schools. It is based on tape recordings and ethnographic observations of majority Greek and minority Turkish-speaking children at an Athens primary school. It offers the reader a unique look into the ways in which children draw upon their rich interactional histories and share, transform and recontextualize linguistic and other semiotic resources in circulation to construct play frames and explore, adopt, resist available as well as novel social roles and identities. Drawing on ethnographically informed approaches to discourse, the book shows the ways in which verbal phenomena such as teasing, joking, language play, music making and chanting can provide a productive locus for the study of the negotiation of social identities and roles at school. This book will be of interest to scholars, researchers and students of sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, cultural studies, and multicultural education. It will also be of interest to anthropologists and sociologists.
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, 163] 2007.  xii, 300 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“Vally Lytra's book provides a lively description of a community in transition and, at the same time, a very well documented analysis of such speech events as teasing and joking. It is a welcome contribution both to the ethnography of minorities and to linguistics.”
“Vally Lytra demonstrates the power of combining sociolinguistics with ethnography in this fascinating, nuanced account of children's linguistic creativity. Using a rare combination of data from both instructional and recreational contexts, she captures the intricate complexities of children's meaning-making and the dynamics of sociability, identity and knowledge construction. The ways linguistic minority children use mainstream media and popular culture to lay claim to a shared bicultural peer-group identity are particularly striking. This meticulous analysis of children's agentive, playful negotiations of knowledge and authority will provide an important reference point for future studies of language in multilingual classrooms and a tremendous resource for researchers and teachers.”
“The book is a significant contribution to the study of the integration of minority groups in multicultural societies, and more particularly the intercultural relationships of minority and majority children in the presence of the ‘ever increasing cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity’ (p. 3) of Greek society. It tackles a number of important topics, such as the socialisation of minority children, children’s play, intercultural relationships and identities in talk. [...].One of the highlights of the book is the invigorating discussion of the children’s life histories six years after the original data collection, which adds to the dynamic nature of the book. [...] As this book brings together a unique combination of multiple analytical perspectives on the interpretation of talk and cultural play in educational settings, it will certainly appeal to sociolinguists, researchers in language and multicultural education, as well as to Greek educational stakeholders involved in decision making about intercultural schools.”
“This amazing account of children's playful language shows us how young grade school children are competent social actors who create meanings, form social relationships, and develop themselves as well as each other through flexible and creative use of language in many different forms. Vally Lytra's study is a first class example of unprejudiced empirical work at its very best. She presents insights into the inner social workings of children's groups which we have not seen before, and she brings us closer to understanding why the adults in the school are not nearly as important as the other kids are. We can all go back to our data with children's conversations and have another look.”
“In Play Frames and Social Identities Vally Lytra presents a truly fascinating ethnographic study of a multilingual group of children in a Greek primary school focusing on playful interaction as a site for the analysis of "the construction, representation and negotiation of the identities in talk." [...] Bringing together recent insights from sociolinguistic and anthropological inquiry in this field, the author illustrates how language functions in conjunction with other forms of symbolic practice to constitute identities and social realities.[...] The author's insightful use of ethnography and her careful study of talk and of non discursive practices illustrate that a great deal of knowledge and understanding can be gained on the constitution of communities, their functioning in institutional and non institutional settings, their members use of established social identities, and potential for creating new ones. At the same time, Lytra introduces some important directions for future research. [...] This book should be read not only by scholars interested in literacy, learning and multilingual education, but also by those interested in interactional approaches to discourse and identity.”
“Lytra’s work makes a useful contribution to the literature on interactions in intercultural school settings and the social construction of identities.”

Main BIC Subject

CFB: Sociolinguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2007025056