This chapter proposes a sociocultural approach that involves observation of development in three planes of analysis corresponding to personal, interpersonal, and community processes. I refer to developmental processes corresponding with these three planes of analysis as apprenticeship, guided participation, and participatory appropriation, in turn. These are inseparable, mutually constituting planes comprising activities that can become the focus of analysis at different times, but with the others necessarily remaining in the background of the analysis. I argue that children take part in the activities of their community, engaging with other children and with adults in routine and tacit as well as explicit collaboration (both in each others' presence and in otherwise socially structured activities) and in the process of participation become prepared for later participation in related events.
Developmental research has commonly limited attention to either the individual or the environment – for example, examining how adults teach children or how children construct reality, with an emphasis on either separate individuals or independent environmental elements as the basic units of analysis. Even when both the individual and the environment are considered, they are often regarded as separate entities rather than being mutually defined and interdependent in ways that preclude their separation as units or elements (Dewey & Bentley, 1949; Pepper, 1942; Rogoff, 1982, 1992).
Vygotsky's emphasis on the interrelated roles of the individual and the social world in microgenetic, ontogenetic, sociocultural, and phylogenetic development (Scribner, 1985; Wertsch, 1985) includes the individual and the environment together in successively broader time frames.