Dr. Valsiner then develops a hierarchical, systemic model that portrays development as an open–ended, dialectical process. Central to Valsiner′s approach is the premise that, since each child is unique as are his or her life conditions deviations in function or the rate of development from a prescribed norm are just as likely to be constructive adaptations to changing environmental pressures as symptoms of psychological disorder. Drawing upon sources as varied as linguistic philosophy, structural anthropology, thermodynamics, and systems theory, as well as the work of many of the leading figures in twentieth–century developmental theory, Valsiner argues convincingly for an approach to developmental psychology mature enough to recognize the difference between healthy variability and dysfunction.
In later chapters the focus shifts from development in the abstract to the everyday challenges encountered by the developing child. Case histories illustrate the subtle interplay of cultural, physiological, and psychological factors in shaping childhood behavior.
Called an "intellectual tour de force" by the Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, Culture and the Development of Children′s Action is important reading for developmental psychologists, child psychologists, and all child clinicians.
"Of course, no science progresses in a linear fashion. It moves interdependently with the society in which it is embedded, making use of the narrative forms in describing itself to its insiders and outsiders. The rhetoric of scientists about their science is therefore necessarily inconsistent. Sciences are both social institutions within a society and social organizations that attempt to build universal knowledge. It is a complicated task for psychology to be both knowledge–constructing and self–reflexive at the same time. Nevertheless, it is the latter kind of reflexivity that guides the actual construction of knowledge." Jaan Valsiner
"[This book] is a fascinating and important work that challenges much of contemporary developmental psychology. The Second Edition has changed in a number of respects, and much new material has been added, but at root, Valsiner grapples with the question ′how shall we understand development?′ He continues to struggle also with what he describes rather vividly as the ′epistemological windmills of psychology.′ His challenge is summed up succinctly in two lines from a poem by T. S. Eliot:
- Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
- Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" from the Foreword by Kevin Connolly
Basic Assumptions Underlying Psychological Research.
Crossroads of the Deductive and Inductive Lines of Knowledge Construction in Psychology.
Theoretical Bases for a Theory of "Bounded Indeterminacy" of Development.
The Theoretical System.
Actions in Culturally Organized Contexts: Settings of Mealtimes.
Cultural Regulation and the Development of Children′s Actions at Mealtimes.
Cultural Autoregulation of the Self: Semiotic Mediation of the Intrapsychological Realm.
Conclusions: "Bounded Variability" in Human Psychological Development, and the Methodology for Its Study.