Cultural-historical methodology of the study of human development in transitions



Many methodological ideas of Vygotsky’s cultural-historical psychology still are hypothetical and require further elaboration and empirical evidence. Such theoretical concepts as social situation of development, crisis and latent period, neoformation, psychological age, the zone of proximal development etc. are involved in transitions. But the mechanism of transition still needs specifying. In our intervention study we have focused on the transition from play to learning activity. We introduce the concept of transitory activity system, which is specified in our study as a hybrid activity of play and learning. We have named this hybrid activity «narrative learning» following the ideas of Donald and Bruner. The second level of research is comprised from a series of playworld projects in vertically integrated multiage classrooms (4 – 8 years olds). Adult interventions consist of inviting children to imaginative environment, presenting role characters and their relations, introducing challenging problems, organizing children’s dialogues and providing opportunities for child-initiated play.

General Information

Keywords: cultural-historical methodology; genetic experiment; developmental transition; transitory activity system; neoformation; narrative learning; narrative intervention

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Hakkarainen P. Cultural-historical methodology of the study of human development in transitions. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2010. Vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 75–82. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Pentti Hakkarainen, PhD, Editor-in-chief of Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, professor emeritus, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland, ORCID:, e-mail:



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