Contemporary Adolescence through the Prism of the Cultural-Historical Theory: on the Issue of Experimenting with Roles



The article focuses on the main aspects of understanding adolescence in the framework of the Cultural-Historical Theory. Such concepts as new formations, social situation of development and leading activity are discussed in relation to this age period. It is argued that controversies about the content of development in adolescence are due to the fact that so far no “ideal form” has been clearly indicated for this age. An attempt is made to discuss a little-known text by L.S. Vygotsky – “Concrete human psychology” – where the issue of social roles and the importance of investigating them in adolescence was highlighted. L.S. Vygotsky interpreted the notion of role as a key mechanism, responsible for the regulation of higher mental functions in various social interactions. For a number of reasons – particularly, historical – the concept of role has long remained almost neglected in Russian psychology. Thus, the article draws attention to the issue of role development in adolescence and focuses on the problem of experimenting with roles as a particular system of activities during this age period.

General Information

Keywords: adolescence, psychological age, new formations, social situation of development, leading activity, drama, ideal form, social role, experimenting with roles, role development

Journal rubric: Problems of Cultural-Historical and Activity Psychology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Rubtsova O.V. Contemporary Adolescence through the Prism of the Cultural-Historical Theory: on the Issue of Experimenting with Roles. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2020. Vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 69–77. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2020160209.

A Part of Article

Cultural-Historical Theory is a concept that focuses on the development of consciousness, or, more particularly, on the development of higher mental functions. The key word here is development, as, in contrast to traditional psychological concepts, Cultural-Historical Theory (CHT) does not study the “stiffened” (already mature) products of human psyche, but the very process of their formation — in other words, genesis.


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Information About the Authors

Olga V. Rubtsova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor of the Department of "Age Psychology named after prof .L.F. Obukhova" of the Faculty of "Psychology of Education", Head of the "Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Modern Childhood", Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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