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Re: [xmca] Leading activity as distinct within stages

Hi Natalia and others
The specific ways we construct various notions of "context" or social
situations of development privilege different relational patterns of
interactivity. Neo-Meadian accounts emphasize ACTUAL relational patterns
that potentially are capable of interchangeability.  Whether  the social
positions of the actors ACTUALLY change is a central variable for Meadian
accounts.Gillespie and Cornish in an article "What Can be Said? Identity as
a Constraint on Knowledge" [on Gillespie's website at [

Alex Gillespie and Flora Cornish both were students of Gerard Duveen whose
work elaborated the formation of personal identity within a social
representational framework.  Social representations are produced through
social interactions which Duveen theorized are CONSTRAINED by the identity
RELATIONS BETWEEN the participants in an interaction.  Knowledge and concept
development are fundamentally influenced and constrained by the
particular organization of identity positions within the social situation.
Specific sociogenetic identity relations mediate knowledge construction and
lead to the value question

What kinds of social relations might facilitate and constitute
transformative dialogical engagement?  And in contrast what kinds of social
situations constrain identity [and knowledge generation]? Gillespie and
Cornish suggest hierarchical identity positions may CONSTRAIN what can be
said [and heard] Hierarchical social positions may also lead to
self-silencing and dismissing of the other in  hierarchically structured
social situations.

Gerard Duveen emphasized that identity is as much about being socially
IDENTIFIED as it is about making identifications. Identity becomes a
CONSTRAINT on what can be said and accepted As Duveen stated
"We can then consider identity as an asymmetry in a relationship that
CONSTRAINS what can be communicated through it - both in the sense of what
it becomes possible to communicate and in the sense of what becomes
incommunicable (and potentially a point of resistance), or communicable only
on condition of a reworking of that identity" [quoted in Gillespie and
Cornish p.5.4] For Duveen, to change one's beliefs or actions is also to
change one's identity.  To capitulate visibly to the influence of another
undermines one's current identity and positions oneself as being "corrected"
by the other.

Gillespie has attempted to make links between  Duveen's notion of
relationally constructed identity formation within sociogenetic situations
with neo-Meadian ideas about perspective taking. Meadian approaches "in
contrast to cognitive approaches to perspective taking" argue "that movement
BETWEEN social positions is an important social and interactional PRECURSOR
to perspective-taking".  It is this actual position exchange in an
interactional sense which provides the social basis for intersubjectivity.
 This Meadian approach questions the "mind-reading" interpretation of

Gillespie [in press] ran a series of experiments to test whether exchanging
social positions within a joint task improves intersubjective coordination.
The joint task involves "director" and "follower" positions. The director,
using a map, must guide the follower, who has a blank map.  The experiment
has 2 conditions. In the control condition the positions of director and
follower remain the same for all 5 trials.  In the intervention condition
social positions are exchanged after each trial. The question was
Would those dyads exchanging social positions be better able to COORDINATE
THEIR PERSPECTIVES to resolve a conflict situation. In the experiment only
1/20 dyads in the control situation solved the conflict while 17/20 dyads
who exchanged positions solved the task.  Gillespie suggests this supports
the notion for a social basis for perspective taking [not mind reading]
In the exchange condition the participants LISTEN TO EACH OTHER and accept
what the other is saying. In the control condition participants were not
listening to each other and DISMISSED what each other was saying. Gillespie
believes in the control condition the participants were drawing upon social
representations of a "leader/subordinate relationship" Understanding these
relational identities is crucial to understanding how the participants
engaged with acuiring knowledge of mapping.
In the exchange condition there is a relational pattern of ENGAGEMENT. Each
participant attempts to understand the perspective of the other person

I believe this approach to perspective taking has promise for changing
relational patterns among students in classrooms.
What do others think?


On Sun, Aug 1, 2010 at 9:34 AM, Natalia Gajdamaschko <nataliag@sfu.ca>wrote:

> Hi Larry and Dear All,
> Larry, I think it is important to remember that hiding behind the scene is
> a notion of "ideality" that could make this discussion tricky for some.
> Because dialectical materilist understanding of the specific nature of the
> social human relationship to the world is ... well, different.
> Look, for example, at the Marx quote that I've stolen this morning from
> Il'enkov:
> "The animal is immediately one with its life activity.  It does not
> distinguish itself from it. IT is its life activity. Man makes his life
> activity itself the object of his will and his consciousness".  This mean
> that when we discuss the activity of a child, it is activity directly also
> towards her own forms of life activity, towards himself.  This is why I
> think Vygotsky stressed child, confronted not only with tangible external
> world but also with the world of culture,  "arms-and-rearms" herself with
> different cultural tools available in different social situation of
> development. And those tools could sometimes bear no relationship to
> biological development because they are directed towards mastering
> "ideality" of culture through activity. And, yes, will and consciousness
> thus are very specifically human in its essence.
> Now, do you know how "ideality" is interpreted in other traditions you try
> to compare/contrast in this thread?  Because if we read the same text with,
> say, Platonic notion of ideality in mind, it make take us into different
> direction.
> Cheers,
> Natalia.
> P.S. By the way "Nataliya" or "Natalia" question of yours -- eigther is
> fine.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Larry Purss" <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Sent: Sunday, 1 August, 2010 05:49:40 GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
> Subject: [xmca] Leading activity as distinct within stages
> In previous posts Vygotsky's concept of "leading activity" was discussed as
> suggesting possible "regular" age related "stages" that predictably
> manifest
> characteristic modes of thought. Mike and Nataliya's article "Vygotsky and
> Context: Toward a Resolution of Theoretical Disputes" in Martin &
> Kirshner's
> edited book explores further the relevance of the idea of leading activity
> in the section of their article labelled "Synchronic Variation
> Reconsidered" (p.271)  As they point out Vygotsky's notion of  "Leading
> activity" in relation to stage models of development may have the potential
> to:
> "bridge between Russian cultural-historical developmental theory and
> approaches placing heavy emphasis on synchronic variability that derive
> from
> non-Russian developmentalists sympathetic to Vygotsky's ideas.  However, as
> currently formulated, the Russian proposal, in the same spirit as the
> notion
> of 'social situation of development' tends to ASSUME that there is an
> INVARIANT SEQUENCE of leading activities and that only a SINGLE kind of
> activity can play a leading role in ORGANIZING cognitive performance at a
> given time." (p.272) [emphasis added]
> If leading activities are viewed as proceeding in an invariant sequence and
> only a single kind of activity DOMINATES at each "stage" then this
> "perspective" will influence and constrain what is "seen" as the dominant
> form of activity required for further development at each stage and
> regulate
> the types of institutional structures assumed neccessary at each stage of
> the child's development.
> Mike & Nataliya contrast this focus on invariant sequences of leading
> activities with the "narrower interpretation of the 'social situation of
> development' in the American literature". (p.269)  American researchers
> tend
> to focus on the small variables of  local activity" [microgenesis] as
> contributing crucially to the manifestation of various CAPACITIES.  Recent
> American research recognizes that development becomes more COMPLEXLY
> MEDIATED and results in HIGHER levels of achievement as children grow older
> but American research also suggegst the level of cognitive development is
> not INVARIANT and the local context is crucial to the manifestation of
> various capacities. This approach suggests that multiple perspectives
> [orientations] can co-exist within a single "stage" of development and
> challenges the notion of INVARIANT stages with a more "layered" model of
> development. This alternative model of leading activities focuses on the
> possible heterogeneity of "leading" activities in particular local social
> situations of development.  As Mike and Nataliya point out the possible
> heterogeneity of leading activities suggests,
> "the possibility that multiple forms of activity (and modes of conception)
> can COEXIST in the same persons in the course of time spans too brief to be
> considered as candidates for general changes in STAGES of development.
> (p.272)
> This last quote suggests, using neo-Meadian language, that "multiple
> perspectives" can co-exist in the same persons in the course of time spans
> too brief to be considered as candidates for general changes in stages of
> development.
>  The concept of GENERAL CHANGES [which lead to changes in manifestation of
> CAPACITIES] as developing within multiple heterogenetic "forms of activity"
> [Vygotsky] or "SOCIAL ACTS" [Mead] which "lead development" seems to have
> many parallel ideas. The American re-visioning of Russian
> cultural-historical"stage theory" to embrace a notion of development as
> "layered" may find support in the neo-Meadian engagement with reflection as
> the capacity to coordinate multiple perspectives [orientations to life
> worlds]
> I will end with a quotation from  Vygotsky which Mike and Nataliya quote in
> their article.
> "The various genetic forms co-exist, just as STRATA representing different
> geological epochs coexist in the earth's crust. This is more the RULE than
> the exception for the development of behaviour generally. Human behaviour
> is
> not consistently characterized by a single higher level of development.
> Forms of behaviour that emerge very recently in human history dwell
> alongside the most ancient"
> If the various genetic forms co-exist, our models of development need to
> reflect the VALUE JUDGEMENTS we envision in this co-existence.  The terms
> "higher" and "lower" may reflect a particular bias that privileges
> "theoretical scientific" forms as higher than affiliative forms of leading
> activities that are "lower".  The term "distanciation" as indicating more
> or
> less complexity in coordinating heterogenetic "perspectives" may support
> notions of genetic co-existence that recognize affiliation, not as a
> "lower"
> but rather as a more concrete experience within social ACTS or social
> situations of development.
> Larry
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