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From Volkerpsychologie to cultural psychology: the once and future discipline?

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Despite the current enthusiasm for cultural psychology, its disciplinary identity remains problematic. In this essay, the question of the identity of cultural psychology is pressed with respect to the vision promoted in Michael Cole's Cultural Psychology: The Once and Future Discipline. Cole advocates a form of psychology that is sensitive to cultural and historical context, and which purports to reinstate the program of Wundt's Volkerpsychologie and the historical-cultural psychology of Vygotsky and Luria. Unfortunately, Cole's account manifests the same tensions and ambiguities as these original projects, and fails to live up to its revolutionary and integrative promise. Like its historical precursors, Cole's vision of cultural psychology fails to take seriously the theoretical possibility of historically and culturally local forms of cognitive processing.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 1999

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