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[xmca] Unresolved Tensions in Sociocultural Theory by Keith Sawyer
I've just finished reading the article you attached yesterday and it was
very helpful in placing my question on "reflection" in a larger context.
I also will remember your recommendation to look into the "Semiotic" or
"SCAT" tradition of sociocultural theorizing.
In the last 2 weeks, the articles you attached by Valsiner and Paavola and
your reflections on abductive processes has certainly been inspirational and
The article by Sawyer continues the expansion of my learning by offering a
framework for reflecting on reflection. My first question is if others on
CHAT accept how Sawyer analyses [translates] the various sociocultural
perspectives of Valsiner, Cole, Rogoff, Lave, Shweder and others.
Certainly, after reading the article, I'm much more comfortable expressing
my continuing questions on the tensions around notions of the place of the
"individual" within CHAT and sociocultural traditions. It is an ongoing
debate. The article was addressing the questions that I'm always wondering
I want to quote one section by Sawyer that linked up with my previous
question on "reflecting":
"However, many socioculturalists have begun to reject the Vygotskian
conception of learning and development as INTERNALIZATION, even when
conceived of as constructivist transformation, because it proposes that the
'social and psychological planes are separate' (Matusov, 1998, p.329).
Rogoff is one of the strongest advocates of inseparability; she was one of
the first psychologists to view context and individual as 'jointly producing
psychological events' (1982, p.132). This early statement was not an
inseparability claim, because it accepted the value of 'separating aspects
of an event' (p.132). By 1990, Rogoff had fully embraced the implications of
inseparability, advancing a strong 'mutual constitution view: 'The child and
the social world are mutually involved to an extent that precludes regarding
them as independently definable' (p.28). Rogoff (1997) argues that 'the
boundary between individual and environment DISAPPEARS' (p.267).
However, in empirical practice Rogoff maintains a three-fold ANALYTIC
DISTINCTION bewteen individual, group, and community, referring to these as
ANGLES, WINDOWS, (1990, p.26) LENSES or PLANES OF ANALYSIS (1997, p.267-268)
These terms imply ANALYTIC SEPARABILITY although they avoid the ontological
connotations of the conventional 'levels of analysis'. Although 'the three
planes cannot be isolated', the analyst can nevertheless examine INDIVIDUAL
or SOCIAL as a CURRENT FOCUS OF ATTENTION (1997, p.269). In referring to
these three as PERSPECTIVES rather than ENTITIES, individuals and cultural
contexts 'can be considered separately without loosing sight of the inherent
involvment in the whole' (Rogoff, 1992, p.317).
My reason for this extended quote as Sawyer translates Rogoff's ideas is to
show the parallels to the neo-Meadian use of the term "perspectives" and
"reflection" in his theory of the social act. Rogoff's use of the metaphors
angles, windows, lenses, or planes of analysis all are different metaphors
of PERSPECTIVE taking. Perspective taking, whether "my reflecting" or "our
reflecting" in collaborative dialogical interplay seems to be the ground or
foundation of the various sociocultural accounts.
At the macro level of institutions, social representations,
and hermeneutical traditions Mead's notion of the "generalized other" is
relevant. Martin and Gillespie suggest the term "generalized other(s)"
better captures the MULTIPLE perspectives which much be coordinated in
communities of inquiry but that is for another day.
Denise, once again, thanks for Sawyer's article.
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