The Self in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory – Reclaiming the Unity of Social and Individual Dimensions of Human Development

This paper suggests a framework in which the importance of the individual dimension and agency can be reclaimed within a profoundly social and relational view of the self. Juxtaposed with recent research on the self, cultural-historical activity theory is discussed, including its foundational premises formulated by Vygotsky and its conception of the self articulated by Leontiev. Expanded in a number of ways proposed in this paper, this theory helps to theorize the self (a) in its practical relevance, as a lawful and necessary moment in human collective practices, (b) as endowed with the capacity to generate new cycles of practice, and (c) as immanent in activities that position individuals to contribute to meaningfully changing the world. The concept of ‘self as a leading activity’ is discussed as a way to capture what the self is, where it is located, and what its purpose and relation to society are.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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