The concept of schema was advanced by Frederic Bartlett to provide the basis for a radical temporal alternative to traditional spatial storage theories of memory. Bartlett took remembering out of the head and situated it at the enfolding relation between organism and environment. Through an activity of “turning around upon schemata,” humans can create ruptures in their seamless flow of activity in an environment and take active control over mind and behavior. This paper contextualizes Bartlett’s concept of schema within broader theoretical developments of his time, examines its temporal dimensions in relation to embodied action and memory “reconstruction,” shows how these temporal dynamics are later abandoned by early cognitive “schema” theories which revert to the metaphor of storage, and explores strategies by which we might fruitfully bring schema back into psychology as an embodied, dynamic, temporal, holistic, and social concept.
Theory and Psychology, 2013, Vol 23, Issue 5, p. 553-575