Game-Rules and Social Theory

Game Theory, Experimental Games and many other social theorists use games as an analytic device to understand non-game social processes, yet operate with a narrow conception of games restricted to the formal or codified rules. This formalist imagery of games provides an inadequate account of agency in games and fails to access the interpretive work by players in negotiating with game-structures. In contrast Garfinkel’s ethnomethodological perspective on social processes provides the basis for identifying five interdependent dimensions of rule-following in games. This suggests that game processes are necessarily under-determined by formal rules, and that players can explore the essential insufficiency of the rules in pursuit of their interests in winning. This provides the basis for understanding changes to game-structures over time and has broader application to other social processes.

Released: Replika 29, 67–80.
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