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RE: [xmca] Leading activity as distinct within stages

I have been thinking about this and I just went to take a look at Valsiner's handbook chapter and looked at his take on Mead and I suppose that spurred me to write.  It's been discussed on this list how Dewey would have re-named his concept of experience as culture if he had the chance.  Wouldn't it work in the other direction for Instrumental Pragmatism as well, that culture can be defined as experience.  That is it can't really be reified at any point in time, but it is a continuous stream of problem solving in the context of adaptation to Nature.  The danger in culture, at least perhaps for Dewey and I think I'm more sure for Mead even, is the idea that culture itself has some control over Nsture, is determinative in some way, and that the individual tends to agree with this (I feel like there is some tie to the battle between the eugenicists and the progressives such as Dewey, Mead, Beard and the others who were fighting this idea that you could define an individual by testing them).  Societies and perhaps cultures are able to control individuals by positioining them, and claiming that their positiion is an artefact of the culture itself.  I think this maybe happens with castes and men and oppressed groups (and is related to Friere's conception of oppression and the ways that it is overcome).
I feel like Mead was very concerned with this social contrdol and how you break away from it.  You are seeing yourself as your culture sees you, a social or cultural mirror as it were, and you are believing that is who you are.  One of the interesting theories to emerge out of the Chicago school based on this idea was labeling theory.  Mead I feel wants to stress this social control aspect of culture (while still understanding the incredibly important role is plays in helping us to organize our day to day lives.  Without the habit of action afforded by culture we would be in a constant state of chaos - but organization should not be mistaken for control).  I find I have some trouble with the neo-Median view discussed by Larry (and the veiw expressed by Valsiner) because I feel like one of the motivatiions behind Mead's writing is that there is not this sort of automatic interrelationship between the individual and the social milieu.  It is too easy to fall in to being controlled by the social miliue (and it starts when we are children, through the toys and games given to us by our society which get us into the habit of social relationships without having to worry about positionality).  I feel like one of the points Mead was making is that the realization that we are being controlled takes some work.  We have to be willing to figure this out, but more important we have to be afforded the tools to figure this out (Vygotsky's scientific concepts?)


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of mike cole
Sent: Wed 8/4/2010 8:43 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Leading activity as distinct within stages


I have been trying to figure out what Mead's ideas about culture. Your
very concise summary of the neo-median perspective brings this question
over threshold again.

One way to ask my question is to ask: "What is the medium within which, and
through which social relations and positionality are organized?"


On Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 6:00 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> 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 [
> www.psych.lse.ac.uk/psr/]
> 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
> perspective-taking.
> 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?
> Larry
> 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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