The Nature of Development
View of Human Nature
Operating according to a contextualist worldview, ‍modern-day followers of Vygotsky, known as socioculturalists, believe that human nature is created in the medium of culture and thus can only be understood within a cultural context. Humans are not independent entities that engage their environment; they are a part of it - a person-in-context. This differs from many other conceptualizations in which the person and environment are seen as separate entities. According to sociocultural theory, the child and environment comprise a single unit, and mutually create each other. In fact, socioculturalists assert that the child-in-context participating in some cultural event/practice is the smallest meaningful unit of study.
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A child's context consists not only of the larger culture in which she lives, but also the various sub-cultures and the immediate settings in which she finds herself. Various levels of cultural settings form a system in which changes at one level affect other levels, and the child is an active, inherently social organism in this broad system. In other words, children and their contexts exert a bi-directional influence on each other. While culture organizes children's everyday experiences and nurtures development, children actively seek out and respond to a variety of social and physical contexts. Much of development revolves around changes in how children participate in the activities offered by a culture. They contribute to and select from their participation in cultural practices, and these developmental changes in participation in turn lead to changes in cognition. Ultimately, humans thus create their own intellectual functioning through participation in cultural activities and the use of their culture's psychological and technical tools.
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Qualitative vs. Quantitative Development
In Vygotsky's view, development is both quantitative and qualitative, with periods of calm alternating with periods of crisis/turning points. Within a dialectical framework, two elements (the thesis and antithesis) may develop in a quantitative way, but then as a result of the synthesis process, a qualitatively new form emerges. Examples of such qualitative changes include: the acquisition of //inner speech//, moving from intuitive concepts to scientific concepts, and progressing from concrete perceptual categories to abstract categories. During such qualitative changes, the psychological system reorganizes itself.

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Nature vs. Nurture
Socioculturalists see nature and nurture as intertwined, with biological and cultural forces coinciding and mingling with one another. The question is thus not how much culture affects development, but rather: "By what process do biology and culture co-construct development?" In many ways, culture mediates biological influences. For example, the impact of a newborn's sex on subsequent development depends on a culture's social construction of the meaning of sex. Cultural attitudes about males/females constrain and organize a child's experiences and may even create self-fulfilling prophecies. While acknowledging the importance of biology, the main focus is thus on the bi-directional influences of culture and the child. Specifically, culture influences: (1) what children think about and acquire skills in, (2) how they acquire information and skills, (3) when in development children are allowed to participate in certain activities, and (4) who is allowed to participate in certain activities. At the same time, indviduals also influence their environments through the use of technical and psychological tools, as well as their selection of and participation in cultural activities.

What Develops
Vygotsky held a very broad view of development, with the active-child-in-cultural-context as the central unit of what develops. Within this unit, a variety of cognitive skills are constructed. Among these are language skills (e.g., private and inner speech), intiutive and scientific concepts, and concrete as well as abstract categories of thought. Vygotsky placed all of these skills under the overarching development of a culturally constructed system of knowledge, which encompasses a culture's system of meaning and its psychological tools. Goals, values, and motivation are inseparable from cognitive activity, and thus follow a parallel developmental course. According to Vygotsky, development has no universal ideal endpoint; what constitutes an ideal endpoint depends on the goals of a particular culture.‍‍