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Re: [xmca] CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past

As I said, Andy, this was a statement of my views some 15 years ago.
I agued against the CHAT/SCT division that occurred in the late 1980's and
for their unification, as you note. I never thought this would be an easy
matter and would require a lot of cross-disciplinary and cross- factional
lines of cooperative inquiry.

In your interesting terms, the names are signifiers of difference. In the
land of gaga neo-liberalism, lets call it by its new name, branding.

There ARE diffences. My family is coming for the holidays and differences
will be on royal display. But it is a family. I would gladly
settle for David's phylo-cultural-historical, onto-micro-genetic theory of
development. I think that IS the metaframe that Vygotsky set up for us in an
especially productive way. And I think that SCT and CHAT can indeed sign on
together there as members of a single family. That is what the rest of the
article argues.

What I am inquiring into is what differences in the "gestalts" or
"person-alilties" of different approaches are composed of how, how they are
put together as somehow competing ideologies.

What is in it for publishers of articles in Applied linguistics?


On Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 5:01 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

>  Well I don't know that it is a legacy of the Soviet Union, Mike. It seems
> to me that the formation of factions gets worse the more the Soviet days
> fade into the past. My fear is that we will get to the point of academic
> individualism, where everyone is their own tendency, vying for prestigious
> appointments and publications.
> As I see it, the adoption of a new name or founding-father is a signal
> meant to mark one's own current of thought off from everyone else so as to
> recruit people behind one's own banner. This is not always the case though.
> Correct me if I am wrong but I understand the Mike Cole & Yrjo Engestrom
> coined the term CHAT as a specific device to *unify* Activity Theorists,
> other Soviet followers of Vygotsky and American Cultural Psychologists. The
> function is the same, but times have changed.
> An acronym is an artefact. It plays the role of mediating the formation of
> associations and alliances amongst theorists. The adoption of a new acronym
> is a signal that you no longer wish to pursue disagreements over points of
> theory with the aim of reaching agreement, but have decided already that
> disagreements are fundamental and cannot be resolved. It is the same with
> political parties. But in the beginning all the founders of our movement
> belonged to or followed the same party. It is a legacy of Marxism that
> science had party-like affiliations, and when the times were right this
> played an important role in organising discussion, because there were common
> theoretical principles agreed between all the participants. This is the
> nature of science. But are we still all dedicated to the same social and
> political program? If we are, then there is no business in raising a new
> standard.
> Andy
> mike cole wrote:
> I know some people who care a lot to distinguish CHAT and SCT. I wonder if
> there is any consensus on what the critical differences
> are between them. Here is what I wrote at the Sociocultural Conference in
> Madrid about 1994 where Jim Wertsch, who edited the 1981
> book on Soviet activity theory,  as a major player and lead editor on the
> subsequent volume - socicultural theories of mind.
> More than 15 years have passed since this was written. I may have been dead
> wrong then and making the same argument now
> may seem really mistaken. You will see traces of this same discussion in
> various messages being posted around the P&L article.
> How should I proceed to find out?? Where are all the L2 people here to help
> us out here? Other than publishers in applied linguistics preferring SCT,
> what's in those names that makes people get irritated with each other? Who
> are the bad people? What are the
> special virtues of the good people?
> mike
> ------------------------------
> <http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?st=di&ac=dp&is=0521476437&bs=amazon_ca&bu=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eamazon%2Eca%2FSociocultural%2DStudies%2DMind%2DJames%2DWertsch%2Fdp%2F0521476437%253FSubscriptionId%253D1NNRF7QZ418V218YP1R2%2526tag%253Dbf%2Ddt%2Disbn%2Dlp%2D1%2D20%2526linkCode%253Dxm2%2526camp%253D2025%2526creative%253D165953%2526creativeASIN%253D0521476437&uh=lWJhOav9emRgUTc.i6Qq> <http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?st=di&ac=dp&is=0521476437&bs=amazon_ca&bu=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eamazon%2Eca%2FSociocultural%2DStudies%2DMind%2DJames%2DWertsch%2Fdp%2F0521476437%253FSubscriptionId%253D1NNRF7QZ418V218YP1R2%2526tag%253Dbf%2Ddt%2Disbn%2Dlp%2D1%2D20%2526linkCode%253Dxm2%2526camp%253D2025%2526creative%253D165953%2526creativeASIN%253D0521476437&uh=lWJhOav9emRgUTc.i6Qq>
> For the past several years I have been striving, with rather limited
> success, to understand the intellectual issues that divide the Vygotskian
> and activity theory approaches, as well as the division between activity
> theorists who follow Leont'ev and those who follow Rubinshtein. This task is
> complicated because, insofar as I can understand, contemporary followers of
> Leont'ev continue to adhere to the major principles articulated by Vygotsky,
> Luria, and Leont'ev in the 1920s and early 1930s, arguing in effect that
> Vygotsky was an activity theorist, although he focused less on issues of the
> object-oriented nature of activity than on processes of mediation in his own
> work (Engestrorn, 1987; Hyden, 1984). Followers ofRubinshtein, on the other
> hand, deny that Vygotsky was an activity theorist and tax him with
> "signocentricisrn," which in the overheated debates of the last decade of
> Soviet power seemed to
> be roughly equivalent to "idealist," a sin at that time (Brushlinsky, 1968).
> At the same time, they criticized Leont'ev for placing too much emphasis on
> activity as external conditions, likening him to a behaviorist
> (Abulkhanova-Slavskaya, 1980).
> I do not want to minimize the possible scientific benefits to be derived
> from attempting to understand these disagreements more thoroughly, although
> I am not certain how productive such attempts will
> be for non-Russian psychologists. From existing historiographical evidence,
> debates among Russian adherents of these various positions appear to have
> been tightly bound up with the wrenching political
> upheavals that racked the Soviet Union repeatedly between 1917 and 1991 (and
> which arc by no means over) (Van der Veer & Valsiner, 1991). What I am
> almost positive of, however, is that it would not be
> productive for adherents of the various positions to carry those battles
> into the international sphere except insofar as they have international
> intellectual merit.
> What most concerns me is that for whatever combination of reasons, there has
> not yet been close cooperation on an international scale among psychologists
> who work under the banner of activity theory and those who use some version
> of the concept of sociocultural psychology as
> their conceptual icon. At the first Activity Theory Congress in Berlin in
> 1986, there was only one major address that took the work of Vygotsky and
> Luria to be coequally relevant to the proceedings with that
> of Leont'ev, and individual talks that proceeded from a more or less
> Vygotskian perspective were relatively rare. At the second Activity Theory
> Congress in 1990, there was a far richer mix of viewpoints, but many of the
> people prominent in organizing the current meeting in Madrid were
> preoccupied with preparatory work for the current meeting and did not
> contribute.
> It would be most unfortunate if adherents of the various streams of
> psychological thinking whose history I have sketched were to continue their
> work in isolation from each other. The common intellectual issues facing
> different streams of cultural-historical, sociocultural, activity based
> conceptions of human nature are too difficult to yield to piecemeal efforts.
> It is time for those who have come to questions about the
> socio-cultural-historical constitution of human nature to join in a
> cooperative search for their common past and to initiate cooperative efforts
> to address the difficult intellectual issues and staggering national and
> international problems facing humanity in the post-Cold War era.
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> ------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
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