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Cultural-Historical Psychology

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

ISSN (printed version): 1816-5435

ISSN (online): 2224-8935

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17759/chp

Started in 2005

Published quarterly

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Open Access Journal

Affiliated ISCAR

 

Cultural-historical activity theory: founding insights and new challenges 29

Sannino A., Ph.D. in Psychology, University Lecturer in the Department of Education at University of Helsinki; Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning (CRADLE)., Helsinki, Finland, annalisa.sannino@helsinki.fi
Engeström Y., Professor, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, yrjo.engestrom@helsinki
Abstract
The article presents central ideas and future challenges of cultural-historical activity theory, focusing specifically on the work of the so-called Helsinki school of activity theory. We first introduce the revolutionary roots of the theory in the works of Marx and Vygotsky, and the evolution of the unit of analysis through different generations of activity theory. We then discuss the foundational role of historicity and dialectics in activity theory. We identify two central epistemological-methodological principles that guide activity-theoretical studies, namely the principle of double stimulation and the principle of ascending from the abstract to the concrete. These principles lead us to emphasize formative interventions as a powerful way to conduct societally impactful activity-theoretical research. We conclude by pointing out some major challenges facing activity theory in the 21st century.

Keywords: activity theory; unit of analysis; historicity; dialectics; double stimulation; formative interventions

Column: Jointneess and Creativity

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17759/chp.2018140305

A Part of Article

The foundations of cultural-historical activity theory (or activity theory, for short) are in the work of the Soviet-Russian psychologists Lev Vygotsky, Alexander Luria and Aleksei Leont’ev, developed further by scholars such as the educational psychologist Vassily Davydov and the philosopher Evald Il’enkov. Vitaly Rubtsov is a central figure in the current generation of Russian scholars who keep alive and develop further this legacy, to meet grand challenges of the 21st century.

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