The issue of how the external world becomes part of the behavioral repertoire of children has been important to psychology from its very beginning, preoccupying theorists from Sigmund Freud to George Herbert Mead. But ever since Lev Vygotsky claimed that every function in a child's activity appears first as a process in the social realm between individuals and moves to a process that individual children can accomplish relatively independently, there has been increased debate as to exactly how this process of internalization happens. In contemporary developmental psychology, the process of internalization has become so important that the time is ripe for a book which explicitly addresses the problems it poses. Although the chapters in this book deal with age groups from preschool to adolescence, and topics from mathematics to storytelling and from taking risks to making moral judgments, there is one core question which unifies them all: If the growing competence of a child is truly sociogenetic, if it truly grows out from, is supported by, and is dependent upon the social, where is that competence truly located? Bearing a variety of labels--cultural-historical, co-constructionist, dialectical, contextualist, narrative, hermeneutic, and discursive psychologies--and analytic constructs--scaffolding, proleptic instruction, participation, appropriation, and situated activity--contemporary perspectives are showing clear signs of development and differentiation. This volume's goal is to help bring some order to these differences, without denying either the usefulness of this variety or the importance of the differences among perspectives.
This new book illuminates these differences by collecting a select sample of theory and research into one of two major sections. The first section includes work undertaken from a social interactive perspective. The overarching aim is to identify processes of child-child or child-adult interactions as they emerge over relatively short periods of time. Typically, the methodology involves the microanalysis of videotaped interactions. Development is situated literally within social interactions which are considered directly responsible for children's development. The second section provides a sample of work representing a symbolic action perspective. This one is not oriented toward social interactions but toward the symbolic meanings that they express and that children impose on them. The dominant methodology is interpretive or hermeneutic, and the goal is to articulate the figurative (metaphoric) processes and narrative structures that inhabit social actions and from which they draw their meaning and coherence.