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

Dear Mike and everybody-


Sorry, Mike, for answering your questions with my questions. They are my
answers because I'm not sure I understand your questions. I do not know
where you are coming with them, honestly. That is why I asked. But let me
try to deal with your questions directly, even though I do not understand


How should I proceed to find out?? 


About what? Why do many fields and, thus, publishers prefer SCT rather than
CHAT terminology? In my view and very short answer, because not everything
of worth studying is activity or can be viewed as activity, for starter.


Where are all the L2 people here to help
us out here? 


I'm here but apparently not very helpful ;-) - it is often the case, by the
way, that help from others comes not in a form you expect. At least, it is
in my experience.


Other than publishers in applied linguistics preferring SCT,
what's in those names that makes people get irritated with each other? 


Nothing personal. Often, for example, it is not people of an information
processing approach who irritate me but their approach. At least I try to
refocus my personal irritation on their approach. 


Who are the bad people? 


Hmm, let me think: Hitler, Stalin, Tse Dung, Lenin, Trotsky?.. - I'm joking,
of course. 


What are the special virtues of the good people?

Helping people? - I'm joking, again, Mike, sorry.


But I do not know what you are asking here. Are these rhetorical questions?
What are real questions of yours?


I think I can be more helpful if I ask you questions or you redefine your
questions for me, please.


What do you think?




From: mike cole [mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com] 
Sent: Thursday, November 25, 2010 3:26 PM
To: Lisa Yamagata-Lynch
Cc: ematusov@UDel.Edu; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; Luis Moll
Subject: Re: [xmca] RE: CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past


All excellent questions. I wonder what others think. I have already had a
long turn!
Besides it will take me a while to come up with as many questions to ask
Eugene as he has asked
of me, answering questions with questions being a long and honorable shared

Lisa, more briefly in answer to your questions about how things looked like
to me in 1992 (thanks Eugene, I find keeping track of the last century
difficult, even its latter half): Answers intersperse in BRIEF caps.

On Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at 12:05 PM, Lisa Yamagata-Lynch <lisayl@niu.edu>


You have articulated several issues I have been wondering and not had been
able to put them to words yet myself. My main questions to everyone are:

1. Is there a problem that there are differences between CHAT and SCT?

No! Is there a problem that I am different from my brother? 

2. Is one believed to be more legitimate than the other? 


If yes who for what reasons? n/a
3. Do the two views need to come to an agreement to engage in more
collaborative scholarly exchange, if so why?

YES because they provide complimentary tools for analysing a reality that
overwhelms and defies understanding that is of common concern.

my two kopeks.

Seems to me like CHAT and SCT developed in very isolated locations with
similar core ideas, but among very different people, culture, and history.
It is understandable that there would be differences. Is our current
question asking whether we can embrace those similarities and differences?

Lisa C. Yamagata-Lynch
Associate Professor
ETRA Department IT Program Coordinator
http://www.niu.edu/~lynch/ <http://www.niu.edu/%7Elynch/> 

On Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at 1:38 PM, Eugene Matusov <ematusov@udel.edu> wrote:

Dear Mike and everybody-

Here is my two cents on this interesting topic besides minor correction that
the Sociocultural conference in Madrid was I think in 1992, not in 1994 (I

1)      You seem suggest that the differences between CHAT and SCT as they
have emerged in the "West" (i.e., outside of former Soviet Union) have been
historically rooted in the Soviet debates. Am I right in understanding of
your point? If so, I'm not sure that it is true or fully true. I want to
hear more from you about your reasoning connecting these two debates.

2)      I think in your original message, you were alluding that, at least,
in part the disagreements among the Soviet scholars were caused by their
political squabbles within the "Stalinist science" (the term that was coined
by Krementsov, I think) or in the "post-Stalinist science". In any case,
what makes you think that way? Also, do you think that there was any
"substance" in these debates or not? For example, you wrote, "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)." It can be a fluke, but I have noticed that some former behaviorists
became Vygotskians. Mike, can you, yourself, be an example of this pattern?
If my observation is correct, it can suggest some interesting affinity
between behaviorism and Vygotskian family of approaches (e.g., both are
functional approaches).

3)      I have noticed, and I can be wrong, that you want to diminish
differences in Vygotskian family of approaches rather than explore possible
differences and differentiations among them. For me, even this posting goes
along with this tendency. Am I right about that? If so, can you elaborate on
that? Basically, I want to ask you if you PREFER that there are no
differences rather than you do simply do not see any differences but would
be EQUALLY HAPPY if the differences really exist.

What do you think?



Eugene Matusov, Ph.D.

Professor of Education

School of Education

University of Delaware

16 W Main st.

Newark, DE 19716, USA

email: ematusov@udel.edu

fax: 1-(302)-831-4110

website: http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu <http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/>

publications: http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/vita/publications.htm

Dialogic Pedagogy Forum: http://diaped.soe.udel.edu



Description: Journey into dialogic pedagogy Matusov, E. (2009). Journey into
dialogic pedagogy

<https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=8893> .

Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.


From: mike cole [mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 2:37 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
Cc: Luis Moll; Eugene Matusov
Subject: CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past

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?


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

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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