Cultural-Historical Psychology as a Theory of Subjectivity in the Works of F. González Rey



Theory of subjectivity developed by Brazilian psychologist F. González Rey is considered as a result of rethinking some of Vygotsky’s ideas in the context of modern critical psychology based on the works of M. Foucault, L. Althusser, feminist and postcolonial theories etc. In critical psychology subjectivity is conceptualized as produced by the forces of social regulation, so it appears oversocialized and reduced to discursive constructions. It is argued that the theory of subjectivity in the framework of cultural-historical psychology developed by F. González Rey makes it possible to overcome social reductionism of critical approaches without falling into the pre-critical concept of subject. On the base of Vygotsky’s ideas about the unity of affect and intellect, sense and perezhivanie as psychic units, González Rey developed a new ontology of psychological science that allows to overcome the dominant representation of ‘psyche as a container’ of cognitive processes, emotions, personal traits etc. and to rethink the relationship between individual and social. In the light of theory of subjectivity, the importance of qualitative methodology for cultural-historical psychology is discussed.

General Information

Keywords: subjectivity, sense, subject, cultural-historical psychology, critical psychology, L.S. Vygotsky, F. González Rey, qualitative methodology

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Busygina N.P., Yaroshevskaya S.V. Cultural-Historical Psychology as a Theory of Subjectivity in the Works of F. González Rey. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2020. Vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 68–77. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2020160107. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Bozhovich L.I. Lichnost’ i ee formirovanie v detskom vozraste [The personality and its formation in child age]. Saint-Petersburg: Piter, 2008. 398 p.
  2. Brushlinskii A.V. Problemy psikhologii sub”ekta [Problems of psychology of the subject]. Moscow: Institut psikhologii RAN [Institute of Psychology RAS], 1994. 109 p.
  3. Busygina N.P. Kachestvennaya metodologiya v psikhologii: istoricheskie etapy i sovremennoe sostoyanie [Qualitative methodology in psychology: historical stages and the state-of-the-art]. Zhurnal prakticheskogo psikhologa. Special’nyi vypusk: Kachestvennaya metodologiya v psikhologii [Journal of practical psychologist. Special volume: Qualitative methodology in psychology], 2013, no. 4, pp. 10—30.
  4. Busygina N.P. Ponimayushchaya psikhoterapiya F.E. Vasilyuka i povorot k yazyku v psikhologii i sotsial’nykh naukakh [Co-experiencing psychotherapy of F.E. Vasilyuk and a turn to language in psychology and social sciences]. Kul’turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya [Cultural-Historical Psychology], 2019. Vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 15—24. doi:10.17759/ chp.2019150102 (In Russ., abstr. in Engl.).
  5. Busygina N.P. Sub”ekt v formatsiyakh znaniya i vlasti: variatsii kriticheskikh issledovanii v psikhologii [Subject in the formations of knowledge and power: types of critical research in psychology]. In Kasavin I.T., et al. (eds.), Istoriya i filosofiya nauki v epokhu peremen: sb. nauchnykh statei: v 6 t. T. 3 [Elektronnyi resurs] [History and philosophy of science in an era of change: collection of articles: in 6 vol. Vol. 3]. Moscow: Russkoe Obshhestvo istorii i filosofii nauki [Russian Society of history and philosophy of science], 2018, pp. 87—89. Available at: (Accessed: 10.01.20).
  6. Vygotskii L.S. Voobrazhenie i ego razvitie v detskom vozraste [Imagination and its development in childhood]. In Vygotskii L.S. Psikhologiya razvitiya cheloveka [Psychology of human development]. Moscow: Smysl; Eksmo, 2005, pp. 46—54.
  7. Vygotskii L.S. Myshlenie i rech’ [Thinking and speech]. Moscow: Labirint, 1999, 352 p.
  8. Vygotskii L.S. Psikhologiya iskusstva [Psychology of art]. Rostov-on-Don: Feniks, 1998, 498 p.
  9. Vygotskii L.S. Slepoi rebenok [Blind child]. In Vygotskii L.S. Sobranie sochinenii: v 6 t. T. 5. Osnovy defektologii [Collected works: in 6 vol. Vol. 5. Basics of defectology]. Moscow: Pedagogika, 1983, pp. 86—100.
  10. Grois B.E. Russkii avangard po obe storony “chernogo kvadrata” [Russian avant-garde on both sides of the “black square”]. Voprosy filosofii [Issues of philosophy], 1990, no. 11, pp. 67—73.
  11. Leont’ev A.N. Deyatel’nost’. Soznanie. Lichnost’ [Activity. Consciousness. Personality]. Moscow: Politizdat, 1975, 304 p.
  12. Osnitskii A.K. Regulyatornyi opyt, sub”ektnaya aktivnost’ i samostoyatel’nost’ cheloveka [Regulatory experience, subjective activity and person’s independence]. Part 1 [Electronnyi resurs]. Psikhologicheskie issledovaniya [Psychological studies], 2009, no. 5(7). Available at: http:// (Accessed: 10.01.20).
  13. Petrovskii V.A. Lichnost’ v psikhologii: paradigma sub”ektnosti [Personality in psychology: paradigm of subjectivity]. Rostov-on-Don: Feniks, 1996, 512 p.
  14. Podoroga V.A. Vlast’ i poznanie (arkheologicheskii poisk M. Fuko) [Power and knowledge (archeological study of M. Foucault)]. In Mshvenieradze V.V. (ed.), Vlast’: Ocherki sovremennoi poloticheskoi filosofii Zapada [ Power: Essays on contemporary western political philosophy]. Moscow: Nauka, 1989, pp. 206—255.
  15. Slobodchikov V.I. Psikhologicheskie problemy stanovleniya vnutrennego mira cheloveka [Psychological issues of human inner world development]. Voprosy psikhologii [Issues of psychology], 1986, no. 6, pp. 14—22.
  16. Tolstykh N.N. Teoriya L.I. Bozhovich: lichnost’, psikhika, individual’nost’ [Theory of L.I. Bozhovich: personality, psyche, individuality]. Kul’turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya [Cultural-Historical Psychology], 2019. Vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 85—90. doi:10.17759/chp.2019150210 (In Russ., abstr. in Engl.).
  17. Chubarov I.M. Struktury kollektivnoi chuvstvennosti v russkom levom avangarde: iskusstvo i social’nyi proekt [Structures of collective sensuality in Russian left avant-garde: art and social project. Dr. Sci. (Philosophy) diss.]. Moscow, 2014. 486 p.
  18. Chudnovskii V.E. Problema sub”ektivnosti v svete sovremennykh zadach psikhologii vospitaniya [The issue of subjectivity in the light of modern tasks of psychology of education]. Voprosy psikhologii [Issues of psychology], 1988, no. 4, pp. 15—24.
  19. González Rey F. A dialog with Holzkamp on the matter of subjectivity. Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 2019. Vol. 16, pp. 80—101. Available at: https://thediscourseunit. (Accessed: 10.01.20).
  20. González Rey F. A re-examination of defining moments in Vygotsky’s work and their implications for his continuing legacy. Mind, Culture & Activity, 2011. Vol. 18(3), pp. 257— 275. doi:10.1080/10749030903338517
  21. González Rey F. Historical relevance of Vygotsky’s work: It’s significance for a new approach to the problem of subjectivity in psychology. Outlines: Critical Practice Studies, 2009, no. 1, pp. 59—73. Available at: outlines/article/view/2589 (Accessed: 10.01.20).
  22. González Rey F. Subjectivity as a new theoretical, epistemological and methodological pathway within cultural-historical psychology. In González Rey, et al. (eds.), Subjectivity in Cultural-Historical Approach: Theory, Methodology and Research. Singapore: Springer, 2019, pp. 21— 36. doi:10.1007/978-981-13-3155-8_2
  23. González Rey F. The topic of subjectivity in psychology: Contradictions, paths and new alternatives. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 2017. Vol. 47(4), pp. 502—521. doi:10.1111/jtsb.12144
  24. González Rey F., Mitjáns Martínez A. The constructive-interpretative methodological approach: orienting research and practice on the basis of subjectivity. In González Rey F., et al. (eds.), Subjectivity in Cultural-Historical Approach: Theory, Methodology and Research. Singapore: Springer, 2019, pp. 37— 60. doi:10.1007/978-981-13-3155-8_3
  25. González Rey F., et al. (eds.), Subjectivity in Cultural- Historical Approach: Theory, Methodology and Research. Singapore: Springer, 2019. 273 p. doi:10.1007/978-981-13-3155-8
  26. González Rey F., et al. The topic of subjectivity within cultural-historical approach: where it has advanced from and where it is advancing to. In González Rey F., et al. (eds.), Subjectivity in Cultural-Historical Approach: Theory, Methodology and Research. Singapore: Springer, 2019, pp. 3—20. doi:10.1007/978-981-13-3155-8_1
  27. Goulart D.M., González Rey F. Mental health care and educational actions: from institutional exclusion to subjective development. European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling, 2016. Vol. 18 (4), pp. 367—383. doi:10.1080/1364 2537.2016.1260617
  28. Kirschner S.R. The indispensable subject of psychology: theory, subjectivity and the specter of inner life. In Teo T. (ed.), Re-envisioning Theoretical Psychology: Diverging Ideas and Practices. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, pp. 131—159. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-16762-2_6
  29. Henriques J., et al. Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity. London: Methuen, 1984. 376 p.
  30. Hook D. Foucault, Psychology and the Analytics of Power. N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 301 p. doi:10.1057/9780230592322
  31. Leontiev A.A. ECCE HOMO. Methodological problems of the activity theoretical approach. Multidisciplinary Newsletter for Activity Theory, 1992, no. 11 (12), pp. 41—44.
  32. Parker I. (ed.), Handbook of Critical Psychology. New York: Routledge, 2015. 477 p.
  33. Teo T. From psychological science to the psychological humanities: Building a general theory of subjectivity. Review of General Psychology, 2017. Vol. 21 (4), pp. 281—291. doi:10.1037/gpr0000132
  34. Walkerdine V. Subjectivity, overview. In Teo T. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. New York: Springer, 2014, pp. 1880—1883. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_596
  35. Willig C., Billin A. Existentialist-informed hermeneutic phenomenology. In Harper D., Thompson A.R. (eds.), Qualitative Research Methods in Mental Health and Psychotherapy. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, pp. 117—130. doi:10.1002/9781119973249.ch9

Information About the Authors

Natalya P. Busygina, PhD in Psychology, Assistant Professor, Department of Counselling and Clinical Psychology, Chair of Individual and Group Psychotherapy, Moscow State University of Psychology an Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Svetlana V. Yaroshevskaya, Junior Research Fellow, Laboratory of Scientific Foundations of Child Practical Psychology, Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 1125
Previous month: 24
Current month: 20


Total: 725
Previous month: 11
Current month: 10