The Study of Behavior in its Context: a Mesogenetic Approach



This essay traces the history of an activity designed to promote the intellectual and social development of elementary-age school children during the after-school hours. Following in the footsteps of Urie Bronfenbrenner, it highlights the insight that just as all human development occurs in contexts of varying levels of inclusiveness and mutual interchange, human development occurs at intersecting scales of time that themselves vary in character and duration. In tracing one line of this activity in its institutional contexts over an 18 year period, it makes clear that scholars interested in person-context co-constitutive processes are confronted with a difficult methodological requirement; to study simultaneously the history of the person (at the microgenetic and ontogenetic time scales) as well the history of “the contexts of development” in which the persons participate.

General Information

Keywords: Bronfenbrenner, context, design experimentation, formative experiment, mesogenetic, methodology

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Cole M. The Study of Behavior in its Context: a Mesogenetic Approach. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2015. Vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 55–68. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2015110405. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Michael Cole, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, , University of California, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Russian and Eastern European Psychology, member of the editorial board of the journal Cultural-Historical Psychology. Professor Emeritus, Professor Emeritus in Psychology, Communication and Development at the University of California San Diego, member of the Russian and American Academies of Education, member of the American Association of Arts and Sciences, San Diego, USA, e-mail:



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