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Work-themed play among young children in foraging and farming communities in Central Africa

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In small-scale societies children have great access to observing adult roles and this is often reflected in their play, however very few empirical studies of work-themed play have been conducted despite substantial implications that this type of play has for social learning. The current study describes the work-themed play patterns of 1 1/2- to 4-year-old Aka and Bofi foragers and Bofi farmers in Central Africa and examines the extent to which subsistence economy, age, and gender predicted how often children were observed engaging in work-themed play and characteristics of work-themed play. Overall, farmer children engaged in more work-themed play than forager children. Very few gender differences were observed in work-themed play. Age and subsistence economy predicted tendencies for children to be near adults while engaged in work-themed play and to use objects in their work-themed play.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Child and Family Studies, University of Tennessee, 1215 W. Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996-1912, USA

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

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