chapter  9
Toward Critical Sociocultural Theories of Learning
ByIndigo Esmonde, Angela N. Booker
Pages 13

We began this project because we needed conceptual tools to help us attend to persistent social and historical patterns of exclusion. We believe that our fi eld is well positioned to contend with inequitable distributions of power and privilege and the consequences of those patterns. Within the learning sciences, sociocultural theories have provided our initial foothold. The sociocultural tradition emerged through times of strife and change (Booker, Vossoughi, & Hooper, 2014; Dewey, 1916; Vygotsky, 1978), and as a result, sociocultural theory offers tools to situate individual learners and learning experiences inside of wider sociopolitical contexts. For example, we can examine how and when knowledge is distributed through a group engaged in shared practice (Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003; Hutchins, 1995; Saxe, 2012). We can trace moves that reveal relations among people as they begin to participate in a community (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Rogoff, 2003). We can address the design of environments and consider how identities and practices emerge for participants (Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 2001). We can examine participation in activities with regard to their social and historical roots (Cole, 1996; Engeström, Miettinen, & Punamäki-Gitai, 1999; Vygotsky, 1978). Sociocultural research in the learning sciences has paved the way for us to address how people relate to one another in activity, and opens the door to examining how we produce exclusion and reinforce stratifi cation.