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Re: [xmca] CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past
- To: email@example.com, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past
- From: Larry Purss <email@example.com>
- Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 22:29:07 -0800
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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
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.
First, I want to say that you incarnate that sprit of open inquiry in the
way this Chat forum is run. I have had an opportunity to think out loud, in
a true spirit of inquiry, bringing up ideas that ran counter to others
I especially have become more sensitive to explore and expand my thinking
beyond my comfort zone inot other levels of phylo-cultural- historical -
ontological -micro levels of analysis.
This discussion has a similar sense to the work that Moscovici pursued as he
studied the introduction of psychoanalysis into different traditions such as
Marxism, or Catholocism. Also the radical transformation of psychoanalysis
when it was imported into N. America.
It seems that Moscovici's orientation to historically analyze how
intellectual ideas morph as they are translated may be happening with
Vygotsky and Activity theory.
Today, psychoanalysis is re-engaging with phenomenology, attachment theory,
sociocultural theory, critical theory and becoming reinvigorated in the
process. Sociocultural theory [such as Jack Martin's "Sociocultural Turn in
Psychology"] seems to be one attempt to re-engage various streams of
sociocultural theory as a "big-tent" concept with t recognition of REAL
differences between the theories such as "activity, discursive,
hermeneutical, and dialogical]
Martin Packer's referring to the historical process of how ideas become
institutionalized and structure our theoretical perspectives also seems
relevant. I can't remember the book he referenced, but it spoke to the
historical process of moving from "ideas" through institutional structuring
of theories as they become "established.
Mike, you mention that we are a big "family" who share a common "home".
These metaphors are powerful metaphors of what Mark Johnson calls
"containment" as one of the foundational needs of human beings.
I would like to offer further reflections on the "paternal" roots of
sociocultural theories in the German philosophical tradition but it is
beyond my ZPD. [I am hopeful that this CHAT "family" can offer a home space
to scaffold my emerging "historical" consciousness because going back to our
roots seems to be a hermeneutical value before turning back to the future
and re-engaging with the distinctions and differences in various
sociocultural notions of development.
In summary, the way through may be to re-turn, re-cognize, and re-connect
with our roots and our family identity.
I know these thoughts are rambling, but my sense is that Andy's question Do
we share the same VALUES is as central as do we share the same CONCEPTS. My
reading of Jack Martin, or Moscovici, or people on Chat, is that they
continue to share a committment to trnsforming the world and how we share
We need an historical perspective on our continuing journey.
On Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 5:37 PM, mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> 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
> 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 <email@example.com> wrote:
> > Well I don't know that it is a legacy of the Soviet Union, Mike. It
> > 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
> > 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
> > recruit people behind one's own banner. This is not always the case
> > 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.
> > function is the same, but times have changed.
> > An acronym is an artefact. It plays the role of mediating the formation
> > associations and alliances amongst theorists. The adoption of a new
> > is a signal that you no longer wish to pursue disagreements over points
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > us out here? Other than publishers in applied linguistics preferring SCT,
> > what's in those names that makes people get irritated with each other?
> > are the bad people? What are the
> > special virtues of the good people?
> > mike
> > ------------------------------
> > <
> > 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
> > complicated because, insofar as I can understand, contemporary followers
> > Leont'ev continue to adhere to the major principles articulated by
> > 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
> > object-oriented nature of activity than on processes of mediation in his
> > work (Engestrorn, 1987; Hyden, 1984). Followers ofRubinshtein, on the
> > 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,
> > At the same time, they criticized Leont'ev for placing too much emphasis
> > 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,
> > I am not certain how productive such attempts will
> > be for non-Russian psychologists. From existing historiographical
> > 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
> > 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
> > not yet been close cooperation on an international scale among
> > who work under the banner of activity theory and those who use some
> > 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
> > Congress in 1990, there was a far richer mix of viewpoints, but many of
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > to address the difficult intellectual issues and staggering national and
> > international problems facing humanity in the post-Cold War era.
> > __________________________________________
> > _____
> > xmca mailing firstname.lastname@example.org://
> > --
> > ------------------------------
> > *Andy Blunden*
> > Joint Editor MCA: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/
> > Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/<http://home.mira.net/~andy/>
> > Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos
> > Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
> > MIA: http://www.marxists.org
> > __________________________________________
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