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Re: [xmca] Project

Okay, this is rushed and out of turn, but ...

On Apr 6, 2013, at 7:03 PM, Brecht De Smet <Brechttie.DeSmet@UGent.be>

> Why is "differentiation" not embedded within the notion of collaboration?
> Collaboration does not mean friendly cooperation, it just means people
> doing stuff together, which historically led to a technical and social
> division of labor, to hierarchies, to class society.

But collaboration *doesn't* just mean people doing stuff together, at least according to wikipedia:

"Collaboration is working with each other to do a task.[1] It is arecursive[2] process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective) — for example, an intriguing endeavor[3][4] that is creative in nature[5]—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group.[6] In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.[7] Collaboration is also present in opposing goals exhibiting the notion of adversarial collaboration, though this is not a common case for using the word."

Collaboration, as the word is typically used, implies shared goals - which as Phillip points out shouldn't be built into the definition. Differentiation is needed too. Andy seems to have in mind, as examples of his 'project,' protest movements in which everyone does have a shared goal. But that cannot be the unit of all human activity.

>> But this conceives of human collaboration only from an object that is
> external and prior to the activity itself. As Marx notes in the German
> Ideology, the process of satisfying needs leads to the production of new
> needs. The whole history of mankind is the continuous transcendence of
> original goals by new ones that emerged from the process of collaboration
> itself.

Yes, of course new needs are continually produced (and not simply by 'protest'). But that doesn't mean the old needs necessarily go away. I'm not suggesting that the needs are external and prior.
> But that's only true for the base projects of production and reproduction,
> upon which whole cultural edifices are erected that are irreducible to any
> of these physical aspects of human "species-being", as Marx called it.
> We're not only talking about eating, but also about gastronomy; not only
> about sexual reproduction, but romance; not only about communication, but
> poetry; etc. Animals have cycles, animals don't have projects.

Gastronomy must still satisfy the need for food. Call that an 'animal' need if you wish, but people are still animals, no? Humans are animals with projects. I don't think you can draw a distinction between animal base and cultural superstructure; the base becomes cultural too. And I'm not saying that food is the *only* need. I picked that as an example because it's a clear contrast to Andy's fancy-sounding 'contradiction.' Yes, there are many other emergent needs too, but (to repeat myself) the need to eat doesn't disappear. Nor does it remain the same. Again, the base/superstructure distinction seems to me misleading here. As Haydi pointed out, the fact that we eat with forks is a convention. Except to me that says that eating is no longer simply an instinct and natural; eating has become social. And romance without sex... well, that's another email.

>> Just like differentiation, "routine", "spontaneity", "organization",
> etc. can be unfolded from the concept of human collaboration. As you
> quoted Vygotsky before, a unit of analysis has to be the simplest
> determination, from which a complex phenomenon can be understood. Adding
> "differentiation" and "routine" as an a priori to the UoA of activity, is
> expanding its cell-form, and thus reducing its capacity to function as a
> UoA. What about projects that are not routineous, but spontaneously, ad
> hoc, sudden, and almost destined to last only for a short period? For
> sure, a UoA should try to account also for these types of activities?

If collaboration "just means people doing stuff together," as you suggest, then I don't see that these other notions can be unfolded from it. And I'm not saying that routine *defines* a project. I'm simply pointing out that most projects *need* to be repeated, and that this leads to interesting consequences. They need to be repeated because of the way the world works, not because repetition is part of the 'definition' of a project.
>> This is important, because when a project becomes routine it acquires a normative character, which can develop into explicit rules. And when a project becomes routine its differentiation can become a division of labor. Or it can become playful competition. Or it can become a conflict. Or the division of labor can become exploitation. Each of these is a qualitatively distinct combination of collaboration and differentiation. Also, because of its differentiation every project will require specific social relations. When the project becomes routine these will become recognized *kinds* of relations, which can define recognized positions, or explicit roles, and identities.
>   I think we are in agreement of these issues... but in his ITA book Andy
> in fact unfolds these aspects from the notion of collaboration. The point
> is not if most activities acquire these characteristics, but if these
> characteristics should be part as premisses of a unit of analysis. I think
> not, because then you create a system, theory, (metaphysics? :)
>   You are already one step ahead of developing a UoA and are already
> answering the questions that a UoA should generate.

Answered above, I think.

>> In this way, through necessary repetition, a project becomes routinized, objectified and institutionalized. It will define the positions, resources, and identities from which and with which people can take up a new project. A project doesn't start from nothing and nowhere: it starts from a need and a concrete circumstance, but both these will usually be products of previous projects. History accumulates. New projects emerge within and among the routinized and objectified forms of prior projects. This will both constrain them and enable them. People involved in a new project may find that there is simply no room for it alongside existing projects. Or, they may find that the existing projects facilitate and provide the raw materials (not now so raw) for their new project.
> Yes, I like much what I read in this paragraph. Although I don't know if
> it is mere routine or repetition that institutionalizes projects, but
> that's another discussion.
>> And, as Lubomir pointed out, humans are sociospatial organisms. The next step is to explore how that fact establishes conditions for projects....
>   Indeed, the encounter between the notions of "space" and "activity"
> interests me as well.
>   All the best from tear gas filled Cairo...

Once again, take care of yourself!

>   Brecht
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