Activity Theory Notes

Engestrom, Y. (1999). Activity theory and individual social transformation. In Y. Engestrom, R. Miettinen, and R. Punamaki (Eds.), Perspectives on activity theory (pp. 19-38). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • “Human activity is endlessly multifaceted, mobile, and rich in variations of content and form (p. 20).”
  • Historical roots of activity theory originated from Marxism followed by Vygotsky and other Russian psychologists.
  • “The traditional division between social sciences and psychology has created the still prevalent dichotomous notion according to which humans are controlled either from the outside by society or from the inside by themselves (p. 29).”
  • Activity occurs in a social context and such communicative processes should be included, understood, and analyzed as part of the activity system.
  • Apprenticeship requires the novice to learn the activity through training and socialization not solely through observation and reflection but rather through the experience of the actualization of the activity.
  • “In this sense, it might be useful to try to look at the society more as a multilayered network of interconnected activity systems and less as a pyramid of rigid structures dependent on a single center of power (p. 36).”