Cultural-historical psychology

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Cultural-historical psychology is a branch of psychological theory and practice associated with Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria and their Circle, who initiated it in the mid-1920s-1930s.[1] The phrase "cultural-historical psychology" never occurs in the writings of Vygotsky, and was subsequently ascribed to him by his critics and followers alike, yet it is under this title that this intellectual movement is widely known now.[2] The main goal of Vygotsky-Luria project was the establishment of a "new psychology" that would account for the inseparable unity of mind, brain and culture[3] in their development (and/or degradation) in concrete socio-historical settings (in case of individuals) and throughout the history of humankind as socio-biological species.

History[edit]

Lev Vygotsky
Alexander Luria

Lev Vygotsky, born in Orsh, Russia (now in Belarus) in 1896, was a psychologist who contributed mostly to developmental psychology.

Vygotsky posed that in a social environment, children develop higher cognitive functions in practical activities. His theories were controversial in the Soviet Union and they remained virtually unknown, although introduced into the Western world in the 1930s, until the 1970s. This is when they became a pivotal point in models built in developmental and educational psychology. Although many current scholars do not agree with his theories or agree about what he meant, the 21st century has bought about scholarly reevaluations of many of the important aspects of these theories.[4]

Alexander Luria a neuropsychologist and developmental psychologist. Together with Vygotsky, he helped create cultural-historical psychology and was a leader of the Vygotsky Circle. Separate to his work with Vygotsky, Luria is known for his case studies: "The Mind of a Mnemonist" and "The Man with a Shattered World." The former being a case study about a man with a highly advanced memory and the latter about a man with traumatic brain injury.

The Theory[edit]

Cultural-historical psychology or the sociocultural theory is a developmental theory developed by Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria. The theory focuses on the individual development of people and the important contributions that society makes to them.[5]

Vygotsky believed that the development of higher order functions are a result of parents, caregivers, peers and the culture at large. According to Vygotsky, "Every function in the child's cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychogical). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the high functions originate as actual relationships between individuals." [5]

This theory focuses on not only individual learning and the influences adults and peers have on learning, but on how cultural beliefs and attitudes affect instruction and learning.[5]

Vygotsky stated that "children are born with basic biological constraints on their minds. Each culture, however, provides what he referred to as 'tools of intellectual adaption.' These tools allow children to use their basic mental abilities in a way that is adaptive to the culture in which they live."[5]

The Benefits and Failings of the Theory[edit]

The larger project of the new psychology of Vygotsky and Luria failed,[6] and no universal integrative theory of human mind and development was built by the time of Vygotsky's death in 1934 or, for that matter, ever after. However, the earlier intellectual effort and the legacy of the Soviet scholars of the 1920s-1930s was not entirely wasted and later developed in a range of special—typically, loosely related—fields of psychological theory and practice such as cultural[7][8] and child psychology[9] and education (most notably, in the subfields of dynamic assessment[10] and the so-called developmental education[11]), neuropsychology,[12][13] or psycholinguistics.[14] Other notable areas of theory and practice that are in the dialogue with the cultural-historical tradition of Vygotsky and Luria are psychotherapy,[15] theory of art,[16] "dialogical science",[17] cognitive science,[18] semiotics[19] and, in the words of Oliver Sacks, somewhat vague perspective, mindset and philosophy of "romantic science".[20]

Zones of Proximal Development (ZPD)[edit]

The Zone of proximal development (ZPD) measures the difference between what the learner can do by themselves, what they can do with guidance and what they are not yet able to do.[21] The zone of proximal development was developed in the last ten years of Vygotsky's life (1924-1934). This concept has not yet been fully developed, as Vygotsky died before the majority of this concept could be completed and introduced.[22]

Zone of Proximal Development diagram

The theory of the zone of proximal development was created to argue against the use of academic, knowledge-based testing to gain understanding of students' intelligence. This concept was also introduced to develop further Jean Piaget's theory of children being lone learners.[23] Vygotsky posed that, "if two children perform the same on a test, are their levels of development the same?"- he came to the conclusion that the children's level of development were not the same. Due to his untimely death, his work was interrupted and his concept of the zone of proximal development remained mostly incomplete.[24]

Influences[edit]

The major influences on cultural-historical psychology were the mechanist neurophysiology of Ivan Pavlov and Vladimir Bekhterev (during the so-called "instrumental period" of the 1920s),[25] philosophy of language and culture of Wilhelm von Humboldt and his followers,[26] socio-economic philosophy of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and, primarily, holistic German-American Gestalt psychology—specifically, the works of Max Wertheimer and Kurt Lewin.[27][28] The holism of the German-American Gestaltists gradually became the dominant theoretical framework of cultural-historical psychology of Vygotsky and Luria in the 1930s and virtually totally eradicated Vygotsky's physiological mechanism and reductionism of the 1920s.[29]

A few of these earlier influences were subsequently downplayed, misunderstood or even totally ignored and forgotten. Thus, cultural-historical psychology understood as the Vygotsky-Luria project, originally intended by its creators as an integrative and, later, holistic "new psychology" of socio-biological and cultural development should not be confused with later self-proclaimed "Vygotskian" theories and fields of studies, ignorant of the historical roots and the intended breadth and depth of the original proposal and its consistent emphasis on the need in a new theory of consciousness.[29] These include such as sociocultural psychology, socio-historical psychology, activity theory, cultural psychology, or Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT).[30][31]

The Differences Between Piaget and Vygotsky[edit]

Vygotsky created a theory similar to those of Freud, Skinner and Piaget and was considered a contemporary of such, however due to his early death and the suppressing of his work in Russia at the time of Stalin, he was left in obscurity. In recent times, his work has become more widely known and published and as a result of this, his ideas have become more influential in the areas of child development, cognitive psychology and education.[5]

He placed more emphasis on the influence of social factors on development, while Piaget emphasised that a child's interactions and explorations influenced development. Vygotsky believed that an essential role is played by social interactions in cognitive development.[5]

Piaget also posed that development of a child is universal, while Vygotsky believed that cognitive development differs between different cultures.[5]

Vygotsky's Circle[edit]

Vygotsky and Luria informally collaborated with other psychologists, educationalists, medical specialists, physiologists, and neuroscientists. The foundation of the integrative science of the mind, brain, and behavior in their bio-social development, was the main work of the Circle. They incorporated ideas of social and interpersonal relations, the practices of empirical scientific research, and "Stalinist science" founded on the discursive practices of Soviet science in the 1930s.[32] There were around three dozen people involved in the research for Vygotsky's theory, at different periods of time.

In 1924, the Circle was formed in Moscow after Vygotsky moved there from Gomel, Belarus. At the Institute of Psychology he met Zankov, Solv'ev, Sakharov, and Varshava, as well as Alexander Luria, with whom he would go on to collaborate with.[32]

The group grew at a gradual rate and all research was conducted in Moscow, Kharhov, and Liningrad, located in the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union was invaded by Germany during the Great Patriotic War (1941), the group disbanded and any further post-Vygotskian research after the beginning of World War II, was conducted by Luria, Leontiev, Zankov, and Elkonin.[32]

Vygotsky Circle Collaborators[edit]

  • Vladimir Alekseevich Artemov
  • Roza Abramovna Averbukh
  • Filipp Vinaminovich Bassin
  • Nikolai Aleksandrovich Kozyrev
  • Esfir'Solmonovna Bein (Bejn)
  • Gita Vasil'evna Birenbaum
  • Boskis Rakhil' Markovna
  • Lidiya Il'nichna Bozhovich
  • Danyushevskii Izrail' Isaakovich
  • Nikolai Fedrovich Dobynin
  • Marina Borisovna Eidinova
    Sergei Eisenstein
  • Sergei Eisenstein
  • El'konin Daniil Borisovich
  • Frida Iosifovna Fradkina
  • Solomon Grigor'evich Gellerstein
  • Liya Soloovona Geshelina
  • Nina Nikolaevena Kaulina
  • Vladimir Mikhailovich Kogan
  • Tat'yana Efimovna Konnikova
  • Yulia Vladimirovna Kotelova
  • Mark Samuilovich Lebedinskii (Lebedinsky)
  • Mira Abramovna Levina
  • Roza Evgen'evna Levina
  • Aleksei N. Leontiev
  • Kurt Lewin
  • Nataliya Aleksandrovna Menchinskaya
  • Nataliya Grigor'evna Morozova
  • E.I. Pashkovskaya
  • Lenoid Solomonovich Sakharov
  • Nikolai Vail'evich Samukhin
  • A.A. Shein
  • Vera Schmidt
  • Zhozefina Il'inchna hif
  • Liya Solomonvna Slavina
  • Ivan Mikhailovic Solov'ev (alias Solov'ev-El'pidinskii)
  • Boris Efimovich Varshava
  • K.I. Veresotskaya
  • Leonid Vladmirovich Zankov
  • Alexander Zaporozhets
  • Bluma Zeigarnik

This list does not include people who collaborated with Luria who did not have direct contact with Vygotsky.[33]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yasnitsky, A., van der Veer, R., & Ferrari, M. (Eds.) (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  2. ^ Yasnitsky, A., & van der Veer, R. (2014). What is this book and what is it about? In Yasnitsky, A., van der Veer, R., & Ferrari, M. (Eds.) (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  3. ^ Toomela, A. (2014). There can be no cultural-historical psychology without neuropsychology. And vice versa. A. Yasnitsky, R. van der Veer, & M. Ferrari (Eds.). The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (313 - 349). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  4. ^ Yasnitsky, Anton; van der Veer, René (2015). Revisionist Revolution in Vygotsky Studies: The State of the Art. East Sussex, UK: Routledge. ISBN 9781138887305. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory: What You Should Know". Verywell. Retrieved 2016-05-16. 
  6. ^ Cf.: "He laid out a most ambitious program of unification with an 'historico-cultural' approach as the central feature. Though tuberculosis cut him off at a very early age, Vygotsky left prolific disciples, most notably Luria and A.N. Leont'ev, who founded the Vygotsky school of cognitive psychology, focused on brain damage and on child development. There is a great irony in that history: preaching a comprehensive science, Vygotsky started one more school" (p. 254). Joravsky, D. (1989). Russian psychology: a critical history. Cambridge: Blackwell.
  7. ^ Arievich, I.M. & Stetsenko, A. (2014). The "magic of signs": developmental trajectory of cultural mediation. In Yasnitsky, A., van der Veer, R., & Ferrari, M. (Eds.). (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology. Cambridge University Press (pp. 217-244)
  8. ^ Subbotsky, E. (2014). Luria and Vygotsky: challenges to current developmental research. In Yasnitsky, A., van der Veer, R., & Ferrari, M. (Eds.). (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology. Cambridge University Press (pp. 295-312)
  9. ^ Grigorenko, E.L. (2014). Tracing the untraceable: the nature-nurture controversy in cultural-historical psychology. In Yasnitsky, A., van der Veer, R., & Ferrari, M. (Eds.). (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology. Cambridge University Press (pp. 203-216)
  10. ^ Kozulin, A. (2014). Dynamic assessment in search of its identity in Yasnitsky, A., van der Veer, R., & Ferrari, M. (Eds.). (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology. Cambridge University Press (pp. 126-147)
  11. ^ Zuckerman, G. (2014). Developmental education. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (177-202). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  12. ^ Akhutina, T. & Shereshevsky, G. (2014). Cultural-historical neuropsychological perspective on learning disability. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (350-377). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  13. ^ Kotik-Friedgut, B. & Ardila, A. (2014). Cultural-historical theory and cultural neuropsychology today. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (378-399). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  14. ^ Werani, A. (2014). A review of inner speech in cultural-historical tradition. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (272-294). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  15. ^ Venger, A. & Morozova, E. (2014). Cultural-historical psychotherapy. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (403-422). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  16. ^ Bulgakowa, O. (2014). From expressive movement to the "basic problem": The Vygotsky-Luria-Eisensteinian theory of art. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (423-448). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  17. ^ Bertau, M.-C. (2014). The need for a dialogical science: Considering the legacy of Russian-Soviet thinking for contemporary approaches in dialogic research. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (449-473). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  18. ^ Falikman, M. (2014). Cognition and its master: New challenges for cognitive science. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (474-487). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  19. ^ Ivanov, Vyacheslav V. (2014). Cultural-historical theory and semiotics. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (488-516). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  20. ^ Sacks, O. (2014). Luria and "Romantic Science". In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (517-528). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  21. ^ Reeber, Arthur; Allen, Rhiannon; Reeber, Emily (2009). Penguin Dictionary of Psychology. Penguin. ISBN 0141030240. 
  22. ^ Yasnitsky, Anton (2014). Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy. California, United States: Sage Publications. 
  23. ^ "Zone of Proximal Development and Cultural Tools Scaffolding, Guided Participation". Key concepts in developmental psychology. 2006. 
  24. ^ Dwyer, Helen (2010). Curriculum Connections Psychology: Cognitive Development. Brown Bear Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-93-633317-2. 
  25. ^ Friedrich, J. (2014). Vygotsky's idea of psychological tools. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (47-62). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  26. ^ Bertau, M.-C. (2014). Inner form as a notion migrating from West to East: Acknowledging the Humboldtian tradition in cultural-historical psychology. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (247-271). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  27. ^ Yasnitsky, A. (2012). К истории культурно-исторической гештальтпсихологии: Выготский, Лурия, Коффка, Левин и др. PsyAnima, Dubna Psychological Journal, 5(1), 60-97
  28. ^ Yasnitsky, A. (2012). A History of Cultural-Historical Gestalt Psychology: Vygotsky, Luria, Koffka, Lewin, and others. PsyAnima, Dubna Psychological Journal, 5(1), 98-101
  29. ^ a b Zavershneva, E. (2014). The problem of consciousness in Vygotsky's cultural-historical psychology. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology (63-97). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  30. ^ Toomela, A. (2000). Activity theory is a dead end for cultural-historical psychology. Culture & Psychology, 6(3), 353-364
  31. ^ Chapters 7. Michael Cole: artefact-mediated action -- setting the record straight; 8. James V. Wertsch: cultural tools and mediated action -- getting it wrong; 9. James V. Wertsch: mediation and the zone of proximal development; and 10. The essential commentators in Part II. Vygotsky in America in Miller, R. (2011). Vygotsky in perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  32. ^ a b c Yasnitsky, Anton (2011). "Vygotsky Circle as a Personal Network of Scholars: Restoring Connections Between People and Ideas". Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science. doi:10.1007/s12124-011-9168-5. 
  33. ^ Yasnitsky, Anton (2011-06-11). "Vygotsky Circle as a Personal Network of Scholars: Restoring Connections Between People and Ideas". Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science. 45 (4): 422–457. doi:10.1007/s12124-011-9168-5. ISSN 1932-4502. 

External resources[edit]