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Special Interest Group

Socio-Cultural and Cultural-Historical Activity Theory

Socio-cultural theory is becoming an increasingly important focus of theoretical work, evident from the establishment of research groups and centres across the UK, including the Bath Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research (CSAT), Oxford Centre for Social Activity Theory (OSAT), and Manchester Socio-cultural Theory Interest Group. Socio-cultural approaches to education draw on the tradition of Vygotsky (e.g. Holland, Rogoff, Lave, Wenger, also drawing on Bourdieu) and often also on post-Vygotskyan Activity Theory (Luria, Leont’ev, Davydov etc).

Latterly called ‘Cultural-Historical Activity Theory’ (CHAT) by Cole and Engestrom, this framework also draws on the Bakhtinian tradition and Western cultural anthropology. A common thread among the diverse approaches is a focus on learning as developing through social interaction. These approaches thus have strong links with the study of discourse and social interaction, drawing on the work of Bernstein and Halliday (e.g. Hasan, Wells, Lemke, Lantolf and Gee). Current debates involve issues to do with the integration of perspectives and methodologies, e.g. the linkage of social linguistics and sociology with this theoretical work.

The SIG aims to further theoretical developments in socio-cultural theory, with attention to ‘empirical groundings’ providing support for ways in which particular socio-cultural perspectives can inform research, policy and practice. Objectives

  • to provide a network for those working with socio-cultural/CHAT theory in education so as to ground it in educational research
  • to provide an arena for enriching and developing research methodology for educational research
  • to disseminate the findings of our research to a wide audience of academics and practitioners
  • to raise the profile of socio-cultural/CHAT research in education, nationally and internationally
  • to provide a forum for discussion of socio-cultural and CHAT approaches which is inclusive of newcomers to the methodology who are looking for information and ideas to further their learning and understanding of socio-cultural theories

SIG Convenors

Profile picture of Gurpinder Lalli
Gurpinder Lalli, Dr

Reader in Education for Social Justice at University of Wolverhampton

Gurpinder Singh Lalli is Reader in Education for Social Justice and Inclusion based in the School of Education at the University of Wolverhampton. Gurpinder has a vested interest in school food policy and is interested in the curriculum offering....

Profile picture of Mabel Encinas
Mabel Encinas, Dr

Senior Lecturer in Education at London Metropolitan University

Dr Mabel Encinas is a member of UoS Social Justice Special Interest Group (SIG) and Convenor of the Sociocultural and Cultural Historical Activity Theory SIG of the British Educational Research Association. She created a board game that supports...

Content associated with this SIG

BERA Conference 2023 – Call for Abstract Reviewers

6 Feb 2023 - 17 Feb 2023

Would you be willing to act as a reviewer for abstracts submitted to the BERA Annual Conference 2023? To be involved, you will need to: be a BERA Member be available to referee abstracts...

Upcoming event

Writing Retreat – October

26 Oct 2022 - 27 Oct 2022

Increasingly, researchers wish to make writing a focused social activity with regular breaks in a productive environment that is supportive. This is the ‘second edition’ of our writing...

Upcoming event

Writing Retreat – May/June

This event is now fully booked, please email to be added to the waiting list. Increasingly, researchers wish to make writing a focused social activity with regular breaks in a...

Past event31 May 2022

Writing Retreat – February

#BERA_Writing @BERANews @bera_irf Increasingly, researchers wish to make writing a focused social activity with regular breaks in a productive environment that is supportive. This is the...

Past event23 Feb 2022

Writing Retreat

Online registration for this event has now closed, to register please email #BERA_Writing @BERANews @bera_irf The writing retreat will offer participants dedicated time and...

Past event2 Jun 2021