A Cultural-Historical Interpretation of Resilience: the implications for practice


  • Anne Edwards Centre of Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research, University of Oxford
  • Apostol Apostolov Department of Educational Studies, University of Oxford


development, resilience, cultural historical activity theory, Vygotsky


Recent attempts at preventing the social exclusion of vulnerable children in England have been driven by notions of resilience which centre primarily on changing children so that they may be better able to cope with adversity. Drawing on the concepts of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), we suggest that the idea of resilience should be expanded to include developing a capacity to act on and reshape the social conditions of one’s development. We use evidence from two studies of practices in recent re-configurations of children’s services in England to examine whether practitioners are seeing resilience in these terms. We present examples of work which embody these views but suggest that they are not easily incorporated into practices where expertise is centred on care and clear communication. The care and communication model of practice reflects the emphases given to evolutionary notions of child development while a CHAT view of resilience reflects Vygotsky’s concerns with a dialectic between individuals and the social situations of their development.


How to Cite

Edwards, A., & Apostolov, A. (2007). A Cultural-Historical Interpretation of Resilience: the implications for practice. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 9(1), 70–84. Retrieved from https://tidsskrift.dk/outlines/article/view/2087