Re: Leont'ev-Vygotsky controversy

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Fri Feb 13 2004 - 11:16:13 PST

Defrocked? Where are they giving away the frocks? Anyway, you ask:

Wertsch, e.g., has said that he has replaced Vygotsky's word meaning as the
unit of analysis for psychological research with goal-directed,
tool-mediated action in social context. To me, that suggests that he
believes this to be an advance. BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK??

wertsch refers to his approach as sociocultural studies and so far as I
know does not consider Leontiev an advance on LSV, but we can ask him.

Zinchenko (1985) also talks about mediated action. And he was a student
of Leontiev who, in post-Soviet times, has become a sort of culturologist-
psychologist. His work is available in English in the translation journal.

What do I think? I think there is no such thing as a one right unit of
analysis for the study of human nature. Vygotsky was seeking a unit for
the study of language and thought/consciousness. I am interested in a
unit for understanding the role of culture in human development. What
do you think Jim W is seeking to understand?

Shweder et al, in their 1998 Handbook of Child Psychology article offer
a "custom complex" for understanding culture and development and use it
almost as synonymous with activity or practice.

What does each choice gain for you given your interests? Lose? I think those
are the questions I ask myself.

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