NETWORKING: THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA
Munene, J.C., University Institute of Psychology and Makerere University Business School, Uganda
This study attempts to understand the individual- in-development or the individual trying to move out of poverty. We refer to this individual as the Social Psychological Individual who we find most articulated in Vygotsky's work. In this work, the individual learns to master his/her environment by interacting with others. From these significant others, the individual learns new ways of living more effectively than before. This new learning becomes part of the individual and forms part of his/his repertoire. With time and with new challenges the repertoire or parts of it become obsolete. The individual then must seek resources from outside of him/herself or generally from his/her cultural environment. It is from this cultural environment that the individual attains higher mental functioning that allows him/her to solve the new problems. Starting from the assumption that sustainable development begins at the cognitive level (Vygotsky, 1978), we develop the concept of the zone of proximal development as a learning network. We test a number of propositions developed form this learning network on a group of peasant women and men who solved a problem of household food insecurity by revitalizing their atrophying zone of proximal development. We conclude that the zone of proximal development as a learning network and the three-factor development theory on which it is based can lay the foundation of a psychological study of community learning and development in Africa.