Cultural-Historical Psychology: Contributions of Lev Vygotsky

René van der Veer

in The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396430
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Cultural-Historical Psychology: Contributions of Lev Vygotsky


A brief outline of Vygotsky's major ideas is presented with only cursory reference to their historical background. Drawing on psychological and linguistic research, Vygotsky developed a theory of the development of mind. Central is the idea that the child's naturally given mental processes become transformed by the acquisition of speech and meanings. Through speech the child acquires a worldview that reflects reality in a more adequate way. The driving force in creating new meanings for the child is education in school. Given that meanings and schools differ in different cultures, children and adults living in different cultures will think along different lines. Attention is paid to the argument that Vygotsky overemphasized the role of speech to the detriment of the child's concrete operations with reality.

Keywords: cultural-historical psychology; history of psychology; speech; concept formation; lower and higher mental functions; social interaction; cross-cultural research

Article.  7696 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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