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The dialectics of societal, social, and psychological development: Vygotsky's legacy

1.5 Other topics related to Theme 1
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
10:24 AM, Friday 1 Sep 2017 (27 minutes)
It is a still striking fact about Vygotsky´s legacy that he built his theoretical concepts on deep insights into the dialectics of societal, social, and psychological development. As one can learn from Vygotsky’s theory (particularly from his concept of the “zone of proximal development”), dialectics in these domains are dimensions of real relationships: parental, familial, educational, professional, or more generally, of any kind of cooperative relationship. Consequently, such dialectical processes can also be studied in relation to scientific and technological advances and challenges. In such domains, dialectical processes clearly change their patterns historically. An important object of study, therefore, is expertise (as it exists vis-à-vis particular domains) where expertise emerges not only as a form of personal knowledge but at the same time as a form of individual and professional life. Thus, expertise co-evolves with scientific and technological advances in society, but exists only through personal and personality development. There is no contradiction involved, then, in seeing more general forms of knowledge and expertise within the individual's personal way of knowing, contrary to everyday assumptions of a strict division between individual and society. 
But how can we best understand what is essential to the genetic process of knowing (both as knowing how and knowing what)? And what genetic concepts are needed to fully grasp expertise, especially when a knowledge field (typically for modern societies) exceeds the individual's capacity to incorporate it in terms of knowing how and knowing what? In attempting to answer these questions, the paper argues that expertise is a form of cooperative intellectual competence which can be understood in terms of a developmental process known as “scientification of work” (Langemeyer 2015, 2017). The paper explores the connection between this process and reflections on transformative agency, with particular reference to Anna Stetsenko's  “transformative activist stance”. In this way, the paper addresses the issue of how Vygotsky’s legacy can be taken further in application to research into technological and scientific development.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

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