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Mind in Society

Mind in Society

Development of Higher Psychological Processes

L. S. Vygotsky

Edited by Michael Cole, Vera John-Steiner, Sylvia Scribner, and Ellen Souberman

ISBN 9780674576292

Publication date: 10/15/1980

Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of cognitive development in his own words—collected and translated by an outstanding group of scholars.

“A landmark book.” —Contemporary Psychology

The great Russian psychologist L. S. Vygotsky has long been recognized as a pioneer in developmental psychology. But his theory of development has never been well understood in the West. Mind in Society corrects much of this misunderstanding. Carefully edited by a group of outstanding Vygotsky scholars, the book presents a unique selection of Vygotsky’s important essays, most of which have previously been unavailable in English.

The mind, Vygotsky argues, cannot be understood in isolation from the surrounding society. Humans are the only animals who use tools to alter their own inner world as well as the world around them. Vygotsky characterizes the uniquely human aspects of behavior and offers hypotheses about the way these traits have been formed in the course of human history and the way they develop over an individual's lifetime.

From the handkerchief knotted as a simple mnemonic device to the complexities of symbolic language, society provides the individual with technology that can be used to shape the private processes of the mind. In Mind in Society Vygotsky applies this theoretical framework to the development of perception, attention, memory, language, and play, and he examines its implications for education. The result is a remarkably interesting book that makes clear Vygotsky’s continuing influence in the areas of child development, cognitive psychology, education, and modern psychological thought.

Chapters include:
1. Tool and Symbol in Child Development
2. The Development of Perception and Attention
3. Mastery of Memory and Thinking
4. Internalization of Higher Psychological Functions
5. Problems of Method
6. Interaction between Learning and Development
7. The Role of Play in Development
8. The Prehistory of Written Language


  • This little book is an intellectual excitement; it abounds with all manner of ideas, insights, and novel formulations.

    —Kevin Connolly, Nature


  • L. S. Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist, the founder of an original holistic theory of human cultural and biosocial development commonly referred to as cultural-historical psychology, and leader of the Vygotsky Circle.
  • Michael Cole is Professor of Communication and Psychology and Director of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at the University of California, San Diego.

Book Details

  • 176 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press