Human Development as semiotic-material Ordering: Sketching a Relational Developmental Psychology?

  • Michalis Kontopodis Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
Keywords: development, poststructuralism, mediation, relational approach


The paper presented here is an attempt at casting human development as a semiotic-material phenomenon which reflects power relations and includes uncertainty. On the ground of post-structuralist approaches, development is considered here as a performative concept, which does not represent but creates realities. Emphasis is put on the notions of ‘mediation’, ‘translation’ and ‘materiality’ in everyday practices of students and teachers in a concrete school setting, where I conducted ethnographical research for one school year. The analysis of discursive research material of teachers’ discussions and interviews with students proves the developmental discourse to be interrelated to teachers’ and students’ positioning in the school; the developmental discourse orders ongoing interaction and enables students and teachers to perform the past and witness the future in a way which corresponds with dominant values and state social/educational policies. By translating a variety of events into a line moving from the past to the future as well as by materializing this line as diagrams and other semiotic-material objects, development becomes a technology of the self of (late) modernity which implies power relations and supports the maintenance of the modern order. On these grounds, a relational approach to development is suggested, which raises methodological and political issues.
How to Cite
Kontopodis, M. (1). Human Development as semiotic-material Ordering: Sketching a Relational Developmental Psychology?. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 9(1), 5-20. Retrieved from