The Fallacy of Decontextualization – Oers (2009)


The Fallacy of Decontextualization: Mind, Culture, and Activity: Vol 5, No 2

The Fallacy of Decontextualization

Bert van OersPages 135-142 | Published online: 17 Nov 2009

Select Language​▼Translator disclaimer


In this article, I argue against views of the development of abstract thinking that employ the notion of decontextualization. Starting from an assumption that conceives of context as constitutive of meaning, it becomes clear that the notion of “decontextualization” is a poor concept that provides little explanation for the developmental process toward meaningful abstract thinking. I propose a conceptualization of the notion of context from an activity point of view and contend that the conscious process of (re)contextualizing—that is, the continuous process of embedding contexts in contexts—can lead to an explanation of the development of meaningful abstract thinking. The process of continuous progressive recontextualizing is described in the article on the basis of how young children expand their play activity toward embedded, more abstract activities.