I'm still having a hard time figuring out how any instance of speaking or
even thinking about speaking is not action.
But Philip's post suggests a slightly different way of thinking about the
Perhaps the discourse/action distinction is better captured by individual
vs. group than by ideal vs. material, with discourse being the group level
phenomena that makes certain ways of thinking about things more or less
available, and action being the way that people use discourse in actual
practice (and which, in the collective, becomes discourse). Discourse is
the thing that circulates in society and is instantiatable in any
individual instance of bringing discourse to life by action (whether
speaking or doing).
I'd be happy to talk Treyvon, but maybe better to stick to the question of
why a google search of "ethnographic psychology" turns up only a handful of
articles and no insitutional centers? This is a fantastic idea - so why
hasn't it caught hold?
Thinking through discourse and action (which have to be two sides of the
same coin), "ethnographic psychology" doesn't take hold because it doesn't
fit with discourse or with action (and I would still prefer to put these
together, b.c. in academia, let's face it, if discourse isn't action, then
we are doing a whole lotta nothing! But I'll keep them separate in order to
try them on). Where discourse includes the predominant ways of thinking
about what psychology is and action involves things like publishing in
actual journals that will allow one to keep one's job. The configuration
that rules out "ethnographic psychology" is thus very complex. I don't know
that changing discourse or actions is really going to change things unless
the supports of discourse and action are altered in some way. And I don't
think it is just one single support that can be knocked out (e.g.
capitalism). Rather, I think there are lot of interconnecting supports that
make "the way things are (e.g., no "ethnographic psychology")" appear to
most to be right and good and true. These include such myriad things as
language (in the broadest sense of Western languages, but also in the more
specific sense of the arcane lingos of different disciplines),
institutitutional structures ("joint" appointments remain the exception in
most universities), sociopolitical arrangements, and, yes, capitalism. It
isn't a perfect impenetrable Althusserian structure, some of the supports
may contain contradictions that make them prone to collapse, and others may
be less well interconnected. This is all just to say that there is hope,
but the challenge is to identify where the shaky supports are and to figure
out how to encourage their collapse. And I'll do my part at pointing these
So, yes, discourse and action are the place to start.
On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 12:52 PM, White, Phillip <Phillip.White@ucdenver.edu
Michael, in response to your multiple questions here, i'm going to hazard
a guess based on my experiences teaching children who are learning a second
language as well as teaching teachers how to teach second language learners.
for me, the communicative discourse drives our actions.
when working with second language learners, when the learners had language
supports, particularly visual and auditory, they were often stronger in
mastering an activity. for example, in science when comparing two objects
and finding similarities and differences. if on the board that statement
was posted, "I noticed that _____________ was similar to ________________
in time, i noticed that when the teachers were learning teaching
strategies, and, say, i'd focus on utilizing open questions, when i
provided them with a piece of paper with specific open question prompts,
they were more easily and more quickly able to change their questioning
while the teachers knew the difference between a closed question and an
open question, they didn't have the language structures, say, on the tip of
their tongue. as time passed and they became more fluent with open
questions, then they were better able to control their questioning
strategies, which also demanded that the students then had to respond with
more than "yes", "no" or other monosyllabic discourses.
my two bits.
Phillip White, PhD
Urban Community Teacher Education Program
Montview Elementary, Aurora, CO
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Of Glassman, Michael [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Re: Luria - New Vodka Old Bottle PDF
There is, it seems to me, a really big problem, or divide, that has been
haunting the issue of communicative discourse and action.
Which is primary? And I don't think this is a frivolous question - and
the idea that it is in a constant cycle has a difficult time working
because the question always comes up where do we as researchers enter this
Does communicative discourse drive our actions? And do we change our
actions by changing communicative discourse?
Or does action drive our communicative discourse? And we change our
communicative discourse through changing our actions.
Do we change racism in America by getting people to change their
communicative discourse about Treyvon Martin?
Or do we get people to engage in more just actions and allow this to lead
to a change in communicative discourse.
One of the difficulties with Vygotsky, at least from my view, is that he
can be interpreted both ways, depending of course on what you are reading
and level of confirmation bias.