Rationalization and the re-enchantment of play: The dialectics of legal gambling in Israel

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Romantic notions and critical theories of play describe an assault by rationalization processes on the free and spontaneous nature of play. Other theories seek to describe the dialectical nature between rationalization and freedom, between routine, and magic, and between planning and spontaneity. This article seeks to focus on the rationalization processes of play and to examine whether and in what dimensions, these processes shape the characteristics of play and hamper its spontaneity and freedom. Examination of these processes, performed by socio-historical analysis of legal gambling in Israel, shows that rationalization processes were active on both the practical and technological levels, and on the discursive level of the games of chance. Nevertheless, the characteristics of freedom, joy and spontaneity appeared only on the discursive level of the game and were designed to deliberately serve the economic interests of the various agents in the Israeli gambling field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-326
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Affairs
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015


  • Israel
  • gambling
  • lottery
  • play
  • rationalization


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