What Is Sociocultural Perspective?

Sociocultural perspective refers to a point of view that is built upon the idea that society and culture are major factors influencing personal development. It is an outlook that considers an individual through the lens of sociocultural theory, a psychological theory that assumes a person’s cognitive development is determined by a number of social relations and environmental contexts. Fundamentally, the theory assumes that people are heavily influenced by their social environment.

Sociocultural theory was introduced by the psychologist Lev Vygotsky, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner. Vygotsky believed that parents, caregivers and the culture at large were responsible for a child’s cognitive development, especially in regards to the development of higher order functions. From this perspective, when children are participating in an activity with a peer, caregiver or parent, their actions are based upon the environment in which they learned to navigate social relationships. As children age, their personalities and capacities are further developed by their interactions in a particular society, determined by cultural and historical events. A sociocultural perspective would be utilized in a situation in which a person’s motivations for performing a certain act needed to be analyzed. Contemporary sociocultural theory in academia incorporates the influence of signs and images on the cognitive development.