Sign Mediation in Processes of Formation and Development

Bugrimenko E.A., El'konin B.D. Sign Mediation in Processes of Formation and Development // Journal of Russian and East European Psychology. - 2001. - V. 39. - № 4. - P. 20-33. (Published Online: 08 Dec 2014.)

Abstract. The term sign mediation in the context of Vygotsky's cultural historical theory refers to a change in the nature and structure of a mental process through a sign (the transition from the natural to the cultural, from the direct to the mediated); at the same time, it identifies the sign as a means used by man to organize his own behavior. This special sense of superseding nature herself, which the word mediation seems almost to hold onto by force through a confluence of difficult-to-pronounce consonants (inevitably lost when translated into other languages), is illustrated by certain procedures using dual stimulation, in which the sign acts as a means for establishing new functional links between two series of parallel stimuli (specifically, the triangle AXB, which Vygotsky used to explain the relationship between instrumental and natural processes; see, for example, 1982. P. 104). But along with this explanation, Vygotsky drops a few words that give a glimpse of another understanding of the psychological function of a sign as a means: "In an instrumental act between an object and a mental operation directed toward it, a new, middle link is inserted, a psychological tool that becomes the structural center or focus, i.e., a factor functionally determining all processes that constitute an instrumental act" (1982. P. 105).

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07/01/2001

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