This book, first published in 2007, is an international overview of the state of our knowledge in sociocultural psychology - as a discipline located at the crossroads between the natural and social sciences and the humanities. Since the 1980s, the field of psychology has encountered the growth of a new discipline - cultural psychology - that has built new connections between psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and semiotics. The handbook integrates contributions of sociocultural specialists from fifteen countries, all tied together by the unifying focus on the role of sign systems in human relations with the environment. It emphasizes theoretical and methodological discussions on the cultural nature of human psychological phenomena, moving on to show how meaning is a natural feature of action and how it eventually produces conventional symbols for communication. Such symbols shape individual experiences and create the conditions for consciousness and the self to emerge; turn social norms into ethics; and set history into motion.
Jaan Valsiner is a cultural psychologist with a consistently developmental axiomatic base that is brought to analyses of any psychological or social phenomena. He is the founding editor (1995) of the Sage journal Culture & Psychology. He is currently professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology at Clark University. He has published many books, the most recent of which are The Guided Mind (1998); Culture and Human Development (2000); and Comparative Study of Human Cultural Development (2001). He edited (with Kevin Connolly) the Handbook of Developmental Psychology (2003). He established the new journal on individual case analyses, International Journal of Idiographic Science (2005), and is the editor of Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Sciences and From Past to Future: Annals of Innovations in Psychology (2007). In 1995, he was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Prize in Germany for his interdisciplinary work on human development. He has been a visiting professor in Japan, Australia, Estonia, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Alberto Rosa is professor of psychology at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. He is a member of the Sociedad Espanola de Historia de la Psicologia and the International Society for Cultural and Activity Research, and he has served as vice president for the latter since 2005. In 1987, the Spanish Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs awarded him the Second National Award for research and technical aids to the handicapped. He has taught courses in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, and Sweden.