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Meal times

This chapter gives a helpful overview of the social pyschologist Valsiner’s three zones theory. The three zones approach has a focus on the individual but the individual within a social system. As such it offers a reworking of the age old tension between seeing behaviour as a product of the environment versus seeing the social actor someone with agency who can control the environment.

This particular example concerns the regulation of meal times and the developing child. It consders both personal and social development. As you look at the following chapter you might want to ask:

  • Agency and control is considered in respect to a closed versus open system – is this a useful way of expressing?
  • 'Each and every setting or object in the human environment is both physical and cultural', do you agree and if so is this a statement of the obvious?
  • Do you agree with characterisation of affordances as defining possibilities?
  • The ZFM is an inhibitory mechanism. Is the label free movement appropriate?

Valsiner (1984) Construction of the zone of proximal development in adult-child joint action: The socialization of meals, New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 23, pp. 65–76,

After reading the paper you might want to reflect on other ways of exploring meal times. For example how would the same situation look, say, for a sociologist, an economist?

My colleague and I tried to apply Valsiner below in looking at the take up of ICT in Higher Education:

Hammond, M., & Alotaibi, B. (2017). Theorising the take-up of ICT: can Valsiner’s three zones framework make a contribution? Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 26(2), 139-155.