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The Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky


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  • Page extent: 476 pages
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  • Weight: 0.64 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521537872)


L. S. Vygotsky was an early twentieth-century Russian psychologist whose writing exerts a significant influence on the development of social theory in the early twenty-first century. His nondeterministic, nonreductionist account of the formation of mind provides current theoretical developments with a broadly drawn, yet very powerful sketch of the ways in which humans shape and are shaped by social, cultural, and historical conditions. The dialectical conception of development insists on the importance of genetic or developmental analysis at several levels. The Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky is a comprehensive text that provides students, academics, and practitioners with a critical perspective on Vygotsky and his work.

Harry Daniels is the director of the Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research (Bath) at the University of Bath, UK. He is also adjunct professor, Centre for Learning Research, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, and research professor, Centre for Human Activity Theory, Kansai University, Osaka, Japan. Harry Daniels is the author of Vygotsky and Pedagogy and the editor of An Introduction to Vygotsky and Charting the Agenda: Educational Activity after Vygotsky. His books have been translated into Japanese, Portuguese (in Brazil and in Europe), and Spanish.

Michael Cole is the University Professor of Communication, Psychology, and Human Development and the director of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at the University of California, San Diego. He also holds the Sanford Berman Chair of Language, Thought, and Communication. He is the author and coauthor of several books and many articles on culture and development. He is a member of the National Academy of Education, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Russian Academy of Education.

James V. Wertsch is a professor in the Department of Anthropology in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. He holds joint appointments in Education, the Russian Studies Program, and the Program in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology, all in Arts and Sciences. He is the director of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy. His topics of study are collective memory and identity, especially in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, as well as in the United States.

The Cambridge Companion to


Edited by

Harry Daniels
University of Bath, UK

Michael Cole
University of California, San Diego

James V. Wertsch
Washington University in St. Louis

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
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Information on this title:

© Cambridge University Press 2007

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2007

Printed in the United States of America

A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data
The Cambridge companion to Vygotsky / edited by Harry Daniels, Michael Cole, James V. Wertsch.
   p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-521-83104-8 (hardback)
ISBN-10: 0-521-83104-0 (hardback)
ISBN-13: 978-0-521-53787-2 (pbk.)
ISBN-10: 0-521-53787-8 (pbk.)
1. Vygotskii, L. S. (Lev Semenovich), 1896–1934. 2. Psychologists – Soviet
Union. I. Daniels, Harry. II. Cole, Michael. III. Wertsch, James V.
IV. Title.
BF109.V95C36 2007
150.92 – dc22      2006029810

ISBN 978-0-521-83104-8 hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-53787-2 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for
the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or
third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication
and does not guarantee that any content on such
Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


List of Contributors page vii
  Editors’ Introduction 1
  Vygotsky in Context
1.   Vygotsky in Context: 1900–1935 21
2.   Vygotsky’s Demons 50
3.   An Interesting Resemblance: Vygotsky, Mead, and American Pragmatism 77
4.   Vygotsky, Mead, and the New Sociocultural Studies of Identity 101
5.   Vygotsky on Thinking and Speaking 136
  Readings of Vygotsky
6.   Terminology in L. S. Vygotsky’s Writings 155
7.   Mediation 178
8.   Vygotsky and Culture 193
9.   Thought and Word: The Approaches of L. S. Vygotsky and G. G. Shpet 212
10.   The Development of Children’s Conceptual Relation to the World, with Focus on Concept Formation in Preschool Children’s Activity 246
11.   Inside and Outside the Zone of Proximal Development: An Ecofunctional Reading of Vygotsky 276
  Applications of Vygotsky’s Work
12.   Pedagogy 307
13.   Sociocultural Theory and Education of Children with Special Needs: From Defectology to Remedial Pedagogy 332
14.   Putting Vygotsky to Work: The Change Laboratory as an Application of Double Stimulation 363
  References 383
  Index 427


Amelia Álvarez has a Ph.D. in psychology from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Her research is on the role of cultural contexts in the development and the education of young generations from a Vygotskian approach. She is coeditor of the journal Cultura y Educación and is a member of the editorial board of Mind, Culture, and Activity. She coedited Explorations in Socio-Cultural Studies and Sociocultural Studies of Mind. She edited Hacia un currículum cultural. La vigencia de Vygotski en la educación, and she is a coauthor of Pigmalión, Informe sobre el impacto de la televisión en la infancia.

David Bakhurst is the John and Ella G. Charlton Professor of Philosophy at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. His research interests include Russian philosophy and psychology, epistemology, and ethics. He has published many articles in books and journals. He is the author of Consciousness and Revolution in Soviet Philosophy and coeditor of The Social Self and Jerome Bruner: Language, Culture, Self. He holds an honorary Chair at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Michael Cole is the Sanford I. Berman Chair in Language, Thought, and Communication at the University of California, San Diego, where he is also University Professor of Communication, Psychology, and Human Development. His work focuses on cultural–historical, activity-centered approaches to human development and their accompanying mediational theories of mind. He spent 30 years as the editor of the journals Russian and Eastern European Psychology and Soviet Psychology and has translated Russian psychology into English. He is the founding editor of Mind, Culture, and Activity, where he retains the role of managing editor. He is author or coauthor of several books on issues of culture and cognitive development, including: The Cultural Context of Learning and Thinking, Cultural Psychology, and The Development of Children.

Harry Daniels is professor of Education: Culture and Pedagogy and is the director of the Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research at the University of Bath, UK. He holds honorary chairs at Kansai University in Japan and Griffith University in Australia. He is the author of Vygotsky and Pedagogy and editor of An introduction to Vygotsky. He coedited Mind, Culture, and Activity from 2001 to 2006. His current research is concerned with expansive learning in the development of interagency in children’s services.

Pablo del Río is a professor in the Faculty of Humanities, Communication, and Documentation at the University Carlos III, Madrid, Spain. He is undertaking research on historical changes in the cultural architectures of mind and on the genetic cultural impact of media on the mind, especially on children. He is associate editor of Culture and Psychology. He coedited Explorations in Socio-Cultural Studies and Sociocultural Studies of Mind. He authored Psicología de los medios de Comunicación and coauthored Pigmalión. Informe sobre el impacto de la televisión en la infancia.

Anne Edwards is professor of Educational Studies, director of Research, and director of the Oxford Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research (OSAT) in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Oxford. She is a Fellow of St. Hilda’s College, is a former pres-ident of the British Educational Research Association, and is the former editor of the British Educational Research Journal. She coedited Mind, Culture, and Activity from 2001 to 2006. She has drawn on Cultural Historical Activity Theory in her work on teacher education, early education, and the prevention of social exclusion. Her current research projects focus inter alia on interprofessional working, particularly the idea of relational agency as a capacity to align one’s interpretation and responses with those of others to enhance one’s action, and on how research-based knowledge is mediated in the work of policy and practice in communities.

Yrjö Engeström is professor of Adult Education and director of the Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He is also professor emeritus of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. Known for his theory of expansive learning, he applies and develops cultural–historical activity theory in interventionist studies of work and organizations. His most recent book is Developmental Work Research: Expanding Activity Theory in Practice.

Natalia Gajdamaschko is a limited-term lecturer and adjunct professor at the Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Canada. She is a Vygotskian psychologist, trained in Moscow, Russia. In North America, she has served as a visiting research Fellow at the Vinson Institute of Government and the Torrance Center for Creative Studies at the University of Georgia (US). As the 1993 recipient of an Advanced Scholars Award by the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX), she spent an academic year at the University of Connecticut’s School of Education conducting research on topics in gifted education and educational psychology. Dr. Gajdamaschko has presented papers at numerous European, North American, and world congresses in the fields of educational theory, gifted education, and educational psychology.

Boris Gindis received his doctorate in developmental psychology at the Moscow Academic Research Institute of General and Educational Psychology and his postdoctoral training in School Psychology at the City University of New York. He is a licensed psychologist and a nationally certified bilingual (Russian/English) school psychologist. Dr. Gindis specializes in clinical work and research in the field of international adoption. He is the chief psychologist and director of the Center for Cognitive-Developmental Assessment and Remediation located in Nanuet, NY. The center provides bilingual psycho-educational evaluations and other services for internationally adopted children in cooperation with a network of bilingual mental health and education specialists. He is the author of more than 40 scientific articles and book chapters, has served as a guest-editor for psychology journals, and has been a keynote speaker at national and international conferences. He is a full professor (retired) and former director of the Bilingual Program at Touro College Graduate School of Education and Psychology.

Mariane Hedegaard is professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen. Her research focus is on child development from a cultural–historical perspective and the formation of personality (i.e., motives, concepts, and identity) through school teaching and learning. She has researched children from migrant families in Danish schools and has documented their learning, development, and conceptions about school life. She has also taught social science to minority children. She has started a new project about children’s learning and development by researching children’s everyday life and the projects that children engage in within their families, schools, and related institutions.

Dorothy Holland is the Cary Boshamer professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a former president of the Society of Psychological Anthropology. She is the coauthor of Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds and Educated in Romance. Her coedited books include: History in Person: Enduring Struggles, Contentious Practice, Intimate Identities; Selves in Time and Place; and Cultural Models in Language and Thought.

Vera P. John-Steiner is a psycholinguist whose work includes developmental, sociocultural, and creativity studies. She is a coeditor of Vygotsky’s Mind in Society and is the author of Creative Collaboration and Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinking (winner of the 1990 William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association). She has taught and lectured in Europe, South America, and throughout the United States, and she is a Regents’ Professor of Linguistics and Education at the University of New Mexico. Her most recent award is for lifetime achievement as a scholar in Cultural–Historical Activity Theory.

Alex Kozulin is the research director of the International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential in Jerusalem. He also lectures at Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University.

William Lachicotte, Jr., is research assistant professor of social medicine, adjunct assistant professor of anthropology, and research associate of the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is coauthor of Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds and author of chapters and articles on identity in social practice, including “Intimate Powers, Public Selves: Bakhtin’s Space of Authoring,” in Power and the Self.

Boris G. Meshcheryakov graduated from Moscow State University in 1975 with a first degree in psychology. He received his Ph.D. in 2001. He has been professor in the department of psychology at “Dubna” State University for Nature, Society, and Mankind since 1998. He is deputy editor of the Journal of Cultural Historical Psychology. He has authored An Introduction to Human Sciences and Psychology of Memory, and he coauthored the Dictionary of Modern Psychology.

René van der Veer is a professor of education at Leiden University, The Netherlands. His research interests include the history of developmental psychology and education, cultural psychology, and philosophy of science. He has published numerous articles and a dozen books, including Understanding Vygotsky (coauthor) and The Social Mind (coauthor).

James V. Wertsch is the Marshall S. Snow Professor of Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1975 and has been on the faculty of Northwestern University (1976–1985), the University of California, San Diego (1985–1987), Utrecht University (1987–1988), Clark University (1988–1995), and Washington University (1995–present). His publications include Vygotsky and the Social Formation of Mind, Voices of the Mind: A Sociocultural Approach to Mediated Action, Mind as Action, and Voices of Collective Remembering. His research is concerned with language, thought, and culture, with a special focus on text, collective memory, and identity.

Vladimir P. Zinchenko graduated from Moscow State University in 1953 with a first degree in psychology. He received his Ph.D. in psychology in 1966. He has been a member of the Russian Academy of Education since 1992. In 1998, he was a founding member and the head of the Psychology Department at “Dubna” State University for Nature, Society, and Mankind. He is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been a professor in the Department of Psychology at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) since 2004. His major fields of interests are cultural–historical, developmental, general psychology, and experimental psychology. His most recent research projects have been concerned with creativity and visual thinking. He has written and contributed to more than four hundred publications, including The Thought and Word of Gustav Shpet and Psychological Paedagogics.


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