chapter  4
Expansive learning: Toward an activity-theoretical reconceptualization
Pages 21

Yrjö Engeström is the founder and leader of the Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research at the University of Helsinki in Finland and is at the same time Professor at the University of California, San Diego. He fundamentally builds his theoretical work on the so-called cultural-historical or activity-theoretical approach to learning and mental development, which was fi rst launched in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 30s by Lev Vygotsky. However, in his dissertation on “expansive learning” in 1987, he combined this approach with the system theoretical work of Briton Gregory Bateson on double-bind situations and learning levels and thereby introduced the notion of confl icts which were absent in Vygotsky’s framework. In the following slightly abridged version of an article, Engeström sums up the historical development and current status of activity theory and illustrates its potential with a case story from the work at his Boundary Crossing Laboratory in Helsinki.