Collective Imagining: The Early Genesis and Development of a sense of Collectiveness during Infancy



On entering formal education, infants face the demand of participating in collective educational rou¬tines and learning experiences. However, in this age period, the sense of collectiveness is still in an embry¬onic form. This study explored how infants enter into and experience the need for collectiveness and how teachers create the conditions for the development of a sense of collectiveness during infancy. Our educa¬tional experiment drew on a Conceptual PlayWorld, as a collective model of practice for the development of play and imagination. Thirteen infants (0,5—2 years old) participated in the study. Visual methods were used for digital data collection and analysis. It was found that, being in the imaginary situation as play part¬ners, teachers introduced to the infants’ environment the demand to align with the collective, consistently facilitated and sustained infants’ motive orientation to the collective. The use of props, the embodiment of the experience and the shift from physical objects and concrete spaces to a shared intellectual and abstract space appeared to be critical. The findings inform everyday practice and policy opening up a new area of understanding about the concept of collective imagining, as an important concept for the development of a collective orientation for infants.

General Information

Keywords: infants, collectiveness, belonging, imagination, play, early years, pedagogical positioning

Journal rubric: Problems of Cultural-Historical and Activity Psychology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Fragkiadaki G., Fleer M., Rai P. Collective Imagining: The Early Genesis and Development of a sense of Collectiveness during Infancy. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2021. Vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 84–94. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2021170312.


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Information About the Authors

Glykeria Fragkiadaki, Senior Research Fellow, Conceptual PlayLab, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Marilyn Fleer, PhD in Education, Laureate and Director, Australian Research Council,, Conceptual PlayLab, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Prabhat Rai, PhD in Education, Senior Research Fellow, Conceptual PlayLab, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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