International Journal of Group Tensions

, Volume 28, Issue 3–4, pp 273–301 | Cite as

Lev S. Vygotsky: The Man and the Era

  • Uwe P. Gielen
  • Samvel S. Jeshmaridian


Our interpretive essay situates the life and thought of the famed psychologist-educator, Lev S. Vygotsky within the confines of the frequently deadly political and ideological struggles taking place in the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s. We analyze from a psychological point of view Vygotsky's rise and fall in a situation of revolutionary social change, “class struggle,” “class hatred,” ideological warfare, deliberately induced mass starvation, and the development of a totalitarian state based on the systematic use of terror. Whereas most Western psychologists have given minimal attention to the political and educational purposes for which Vygotsky's psychology was created, we emphasize that his Marxist orientation had a central influence both on his scientific preoccupations and on the course of his life. His revolutionary identity was anchored in a highly dynamic community with shared goals possessing a semi-sacred quality. Consequently, he experienced his later exclusion from this community as a kind of social and spiritual death.


Social Change Dynamic Community Educational Purpose Shared Goal Class Struggle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Uwe P. Gielen
    • 1
  • Samvel S. Jeshmaridian
    • 2
  1. 1.St. Francis CollegeNew York City
  2. 2.Institute of Cross-Cultural and Ethnic StudiesArmenia

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