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Activity theory as a basis for the study of work

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Activity theory has been successfully applied in diverse schools of psychology with particularly extensive work in the fields of education, ergonomics, human factors and industrial-organizational psychology. However, existing efforts of translation and formulation in English suffer from certain limitations. These limitations include the blurring between Vygotsky's socio-cultural theory of the development of mind and activity theory, the restriction of activity theory in its entirety to the version offered by Leont'ev, errors in the interpretation of some basic concept and terminology, reliance on studies that use obsolete methods, and failure to consider the Russian work in activity theory in its entirety. This last problem results in the omission of the recent advances in engineering psychology and educational psychology in the former Soviet Union that facilitates the application of activity theory to practical problems. This paper is a description of the evolution of basic theory, concepts and terminology relevant to practitioners--particularly in the field of ergonomics.
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Keywords: Actions; Activity; Multi-dimensional system; Systemic-structural analysis; Task

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 5, 2004

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