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Issue Brief: Activity Theory

David R. Russell

Iowa State University   


Activity theory was developed out of L. S. Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory of learning by one of his two main collaborators, A. N. Leont’ev, beginning in the late 1930s. It is a way of analyzing human behavior in culture, emphasizing the mediation of cultural tools including writing. It has evolved into a major direction in Russian social psychology and now has adherents world-wide, influencing studies in education, language socialization, computer in­terface design, and expert work, among others. (It is not to be confused with the classroom Activity Approach of the Deweyan progressives in the US.) 

Leading Journals

Mind, culture, activity (MCA)


Culture & Psychology

Journal of Intercultural Communication Research

Relevant Organizations

International Society for Cultural and Activity Research (ISCAR)

Cultural-Historical Special Interest group of AERA

Relevant Web Sites        

Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research

Sociocultural Theory

Relevant Email Discussion Lists

 XMCA Discussion Forum

Document and Site Resources

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Most Recent Comments (1 Total Posts)

Posted By: Anonymous User on 7/8/2012 10:57:28 AM

I agree with the activity theory presented by lev Vygotsky as mentioned by David R. Russel. I used his theory as part of my framework for my masters degree thesis in 2005-2006. Many were amazed on how a man before his times could actually have anything to do with today's on going ineraction of an idividula wiith a tool like the computer. See us now, we write, read, create and do so many other things throught the use of a computer and net access. I know that in Vygotsky's times he referred to the tools of his era, but still, action does take place, let us not forget that action is verbs.

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