Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 602–610 | Cite as

Language Games and Social Cognition: Revisiting Bruner

  • Ilaria GrazzaniEmail author
  • Jens Brockmeier
Regular Article


This paper discusses the notion of language games as cultural practices in children’s early linguistic and socio-cognitive development. First, we trace the emergence of this concept in Jerome Bruner’s experimental and theoretical work at Oxford University in the 1960s, work that was informed by the thinking of Wittgenstein and Austin, amongst others. Second, we provide a systematic historical account of how Bruner has influenced more recent research traditions in developmental psychology, especially in the field of social cognition. Finally, we hone in on one specific approach within this field developed by the Laboratory for Developmental and Educational Studies in Psychology at the University of Milano Bicocca.


Language acquisition Language development Social cognition Language games Cultural practices 



This study was partly funded by a grant from the University of Milano-Bicocca (2017-ATE) awarded to Ilaria Grazzani.We are very grateful to dr. Veronica Ornaghi for sharing with us her precious reflections on the role of language games in children’s development of social cognition.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Milano BicoccaMilanItaly
  2. 2.The American University of ParisParisFrance

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