Aesthetic Play: The Meaning of Music Technologies for Children’s Development


  • Jytte Bang


development, play, children, art theory, aesthetic play, music, dance, music technology, artefact theory, mass-consumption, life-world


The present article explores the role of music-related artefacts and technologies in children’s lives. More specifically, it analyzes how four 10- to 11-year old girls use CDs and DVD games in their music-play activities and which developmental themes and potentials may accrue from such activities. Those artefacts are recent examples of the history of mass-production, mass-distribution, and mass-consumption of music. Since children do get into touch with the mass-phenomenon of popular music and artists, concerns may be articulated that this can have problematic effects on children’s lives. By help of, among others, Marx Wartofsky’s artefact theory, the article tries to get beyond “black-or-white” prejudices concerning technologies and their limited insight; this is done by suggesting to focus on the children’s own perspectives and how music-play activities may be meaningful in relation to the children’s complex life-worlds. Further, this leads to an analysis of music-play activities as play with an art-form (music), which includes aesthetic dimensions and gives the music-play activities its character of being aesthetic play. Following Lev Vygotsky’s insight that art is a way of building life, it is argued that music-play similarly can be viewed as a way for the children to build their lives.


Jytte Bang

Jytte Bang is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen. In her research she is concerned with developmental psychology and developmental science with a focus on ecological and cultural-historical theories. She combines her interests in developmental processes with discussions of foundational issues in psychology related to the subject-object dualism. Especially, she is occupied with studying the child’s reciprocal and developing relationship with his/her environment (individual-environment reciprocity) and with the theoretical issues that it raises, such as what is meant by “environment” (beyond “that which surrounds”), how can emergence of “newness” be studied in microgenesis (micro-ontogenetic relationship), and how can the concept of “self” make sense within ecological developmental theory. In 2006-2007 she was a visiting scholar at Clark University, MA, USA. She is a member of the research center SUBSTANce, which studies the reciprocity of subjectivity and standards in human life. She is an editorial board member of Culture & Psychology, Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science, Journal of Anthropological Psychology, and Psyke & Logos.




Bang, Jytte. 2012. „Aesthetic Play: The Meaning of Music Technologies for Children’s Development“. Journal für Psychologie 20 (1).