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Finding the "prism": Understanding Vygotsky's perezhivanie as an ontogenetic unit of child consciousness

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journal contribution
posted on 26.10.2016, 00:17 authored by Michell, Michael
The concept of perezhivanie, Vygotsky's "last word" on psychology, has been among the most difficult of his theoretical constructs to define and operationalise in research. Drawing on close analysis of key texts, this article identifies and examines three defining attributes of perezhivanie found throughout Vygotsky's works. The attributes are: perezhivanie as a prism of psychological development, as a unit of human consciousness, and as intelligent perception of one's environment. In contrast with common understandings of perezhivanie as "emotional experience", privileging it as affect, this article highlights the intellectual basis of perezhivanie in Vygotsky's writings with particular reference to his notions of "generalised" and "intelligent perception". The article argues that perezhivanie is best understood, psychologically, as an intellectual gestalt reflecting the intellectualisation of perception and, ontologically, as an apperceptual "organ of selection" of consciousness and personality "refracting" the child's individual social situation of development.

International Research in Early Childhood Education, vol. 7, no. 1, p. 5-33