Historical and Political Climates During Vygotsky's Time

Cole, M., & Scribner, S. (1978). Introduction. In L.S. Vygotsky, Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Edited by M. Cole, John-Steiner, V., Scribner, S., & Souberman, E. (pp. 1 - 14). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Summary: The authors situate Vygotsky's work historically. They provide a summary of the historical and political climates of Vygotsky's tenure. Then they summarize the main points of his beliefs and research.

Nineteenth-Century Beginnings
Postrevolutionary Psychology in Russia

·      "But he (Vygotsky) felt that the Gestalt psychologists failed to move beyond the description of complex phenomena to the explanation of them (p. 5)."

Marxist Theoretical Framework

·      "A central tenet of this method is that all phenomena be studied as processes in motion and in change (pp. 6-7)."

·      "Vygotsky brilliantly extended this concept of mediation in human-environment interaction to the use of signs as well as tools. Like tool systems, sign systems (language, writing, number systems) are created by societies over the course of human history and change with the form of society and the level of its cultural development. Vygotsky believed that the internalization of culturally produced sign systems brings about behavioral transformations and forms the bridge between early and later forms of individuals development. Thus for Vygotsky, in the tradition of Marx and Engels, the mechanism of individual developmental change is rooted in society and culture (p. 7)."

The Intellectual and Social Setting

·      "Blonsky was also an early advocate of the view that the technological activities of people were a key to understanding their psychological makeup, a view that Vygotsky exploited in great detail (p. 8)."

Vygotsky's Use of the Experimental Method

·      "To serve as an effective means of studying 'the course of development of process,' the experiment must provide maximum opportunity for the subject to engage in a variety of activities that can be observed, not rigidly controlled (p. 12)."

·      "A third technique was to set a task before the child that exceeded his knowledge and abilities, in order to discover the rudimentary beginnings of new skills (p. 13)."

·      "What he did intend to convey by this notion was that in higher forms of human behavior, the individual actively modifies the stimulus situation as a part of the process of responding to it (p. 14)."

·      "To Vygotsky, anthropological and sociological studies were partners with observation and experiment in the grand enterprise of accounting for the progress of human consciousness and intellect (p. 14)."