This entry concerns activity theory, an approach to understanding human behavior and competencies in analytic units and categories that transcend the individual. This entry presents a cultural–historical approach to the category of activity. In some versions, activity theory is further characterized as cultural–historical or societal–historical.

Historically, activity theory emerged when the Soviet psychologist Lev S. Vygotsky, on the basis of his reading of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, proposed that it made as little sense to investigate psychological characteristics independent of the real, practical, and mundane activities in which human beings engage every day as it does to theorize about thinking disconnected from the living motives, interests, and needs of human beings in the course of their lives. Activity theory is particularly useful for lifespan human ...

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