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Unformatted text preview: en social practices and individual
functioning. In Vygotsky's work there is no reference to any structures or processes mediating between the interpsychological and the intrapsychological, yet, as our research has indicated, something does mediate between these two planes of development. For example, data
from an interview measure of children's toy preferences suggested that while children used
the category of gender to organise their choice of toys, they mistook their own idiosyncratic
beliefs about the way in which particular items were marked for gender for consensual
beliefs. This result does not fit with a notion of development as the simple passage from the
interindividual to the intraindividual. If that were the case one might have expected children to
have selected as their preference toys which were clearly marked in collective practices in the
A second difficulty with the Vygotskyian formula is that the same set of collective
practices gives rise to differentiated gender identities. Our observations suggested that there is
little correspondence between our measure of gender identity in the Autumn Term and in the
Summer Term. Across the first year of schooling there is only limited consistency in
children's social practices. It is not possible to predict the frequency with which children The Development of Social Representations of Gender
associate in single sex groups at the end of the school year from a knowledge of how they
behaved in the Autumn Term. Yet, even in the Autumn Term children responded to the
gender marking of various aspects of material culture and space. In other words, the social
practices in each classroom had established clear systems of gender marking, even in at the
beginning of the school year. What changed through the year was the way in which individual children positioned themselves in relation to this collective system of meaning. This
process was clearer among the girls than among the boys, but it remains unclear how this
process of positioning can be accounted for by the Vygotskyian formula.
What is missing from Vygotsky's account is an appreciation of the significance of social
identities as the structures mediating between the interpsychological and the intrapsychological. His formula describes a world in which every individual acquires the same understanding from a single set of social practices. Yet where differences emerge between individuals in
relation to the same system of collective meanings this formula is inadequate. It may be worth
pointing out that Vygotsky's own researches did not extend into areas of social life where
differences between individuals become significant. For a Marxist psychologist, Vygotsky
shows a curious indifference to the importance of social groups. However suggestive his
insistence on the developmental significance of social practices may be, his work...
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2012 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 107 taught by Professor Neascu during the Spring '12 term at UMass (Amherst).
- Spring '12
- Social Psychology