This dissertation makes a number of inter-related arguments that, at an abstract level, converge on the methodological project of challenging the divide between method and object in conventional social science. The three constituent claims that merge to create this overarching theme are:
1. The claim that it is possible to increase our insight into the complex dynamics between cognition, emotion, imagination, and creativity, which are encapsulated in the concept of perezhivanie, or “lived-through” experience.
2. The claim that a particular form of play embodied in play worlds, in which adults actively enter into the fantasy play of young children as a means of promoting the development and quality of life of both adults and children, provides a strategically useful site in which visible instances of perezhivanie occur with unusual frequency under circumstances that make perezhivanie available for observation and therefore subsequent analysis.
3. The claim that by using various ensembles of methods of representation, some of which themselves evoke and manifest perezhivanie so that they constitute examples of the perezhivanie that they are intended to represent, this elusive phenomenon is made available for analysis in its full, dynamic complexity.