The “Ambivalence” of Joint Activity as the Basis of the Emergence of Psychological Neoformations: Ways of Developing the Activity Approach



The article addresses the methodological status of the category of joint activity which, obviously, opens up new possibilities to consider the psychological mechanisms of a person’s development. Special attention is paid to the content of the concepts “object of activity” and “subject of activity”, which determine the comprehension of the main characteristics of activity as a process of instrumental transformation of the activity object into its subject, so that the latter embodies the mode of activity used for its creation. The key points of the activity approach by A.N. Leontiev are considered, especially those concerning the sources and conditions of activity development as well as its psychological mechanism which determines the inner dynamics of this contradictory process. These contradictions arise in the course of changes within the subject-tool and communication components of the joint activity, which act, respectively, as the leading forms of transformation of the subject reality and as the means of organizing the interaction of the persons involved into the shared performance of joint activity tasks solution. It is emphasized that the dual nature of activity as a whole including its subject-tool and communication components is fully expressed through a mode of activity, created by person. Contradictions arising in the subject-tool and in communicative component are resolved by their mutually conditioning transformations. This leads to a change in the motivational basis of the subject activity, which determines the development of the subject-tool component of the modes of activity, which, in turn, leads to the development of modes of communicative regulation of the system of relations.

General Information

Keywords: object and subject activity, communication, joint activity, mode of activity, modes of actions, development, system of relations, intercourse, motivation, contradictions of activity

Journal rubric: Problems of Cultural-Historical and Activity Psychology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Nechaev N.N. The “Ambivalence” of Joint Activity as the Basis of the Emergence of Psychological Neoformations: Ways of Developing the Activity Approach. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2020. Vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 27–37. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2020160304.

A Part of Article

The relationship between the subject activity (practical tool-equipped human activity) and sign-mediated communication is undoubtedly one of the most problematic issues within the methodological paradigm of the cultural-historical psychology. Since the works of Vygotsky its various aspects have been considered in a number of studies here and abroad.


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Information About the Authors

Nikolay N. Nechaev, Doctor of Psychology, Full Member of the Russian Academy of Education, Professor, UNESCO International Chair of Cultural-Historical Psychology of Childhood, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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