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Re: [xmca] Re: Luria - New Vodka Old Bottle PDF
I imagine Nicholas would find mikes suggestion of ethnographic psychology to be BORING. Why no call for the integration of philosophy or other humanities into the social sciences?
This sounds to me like the very old argument that the social sciences need to be more like the natural sciences.
Old whine, new bottle...
Sent from my iPhone
On Jul 23, 2013, at 3:25 AM, Peter Smagorinsky <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> The NY Times ran an op-ed on Sunday that might be of interest to people dissatisfied with the current state of academic disciplines:
> Gray Matter
> Let's Shake Up the Social Sciences
> By NICHOLAS A. CHRISTAKIS
> Published: July 19, 2013
> TWENTY-FIVE years ago, when I was a graduate student, there were departments of natural science that no longer exist today. Departments of anatomy, histology, biochemistry and physiology have disappeared, replaced by innovative departments of stem-cell biology, systems biology, neurobiology and molecular biophysics. Taking a page from Darwin, the natural sciences are evolving with the times. The perfection of cloning techniques gave rise to stem-cell biology; advances in computer science contributed to systems biology. Whole new fields of inquiry, as well as university departments and majors, owe their existence to fresh discoveries and novel tools.
> In contrast, the social sciences have stagnated. They offer essentially the same set of academic departments and disciplines that they have for nearly 100 years: sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology and political science. This is not only boring but also counterproductive, constraining engagement with the scientific cutting edge and stifling the creation of new and useful knowledge. Such inertia reflects an unnecessary insecurity and conservatism, and helps explain why the social sciences don't enjoy the same prestige as the natural sciences.
> One reason citizens, politicians and university donors sometimes lack confidence in the social sciences is that social scientists too often miss the chance to declare victory and move on to new frontiers. Like natural scientists, they should be able to say, "We have figured this topic out to a reasonable degree of certainty, and we are now moving our attention to more exciting areas." But they do not.
> I'm not suggesting that social scientists stop teaching and investigating classic topics like monopoly power, racial profiling and health inequality. But everyone knows that monopoly power is bad for markets, that people are racially biased and that illness is unequally distributed by social class. There are diminishing returns from the continuing study of many such topics. And repeatedly observing these phenomena does not help us fix them.
> So social scientists should devote a small palace guard to settled subjects and redeploy most of their forces to new fields like social neuroscience, behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology and social epigenetics, most of which, not coincidentally, lie at the intersection of the natural and social sciences. Behavioral economics, for example, has used psychology to radically reshape classical economics.
> Such interdisciplinary efforts are also generating practical insights about fundamental problems like chronic illness, energy conservation, pandemic disease, intergenerational poverty and market panics. For example, a better understanding of the structure and function of human social networks is helping us understand which individuals within social systems have an outsize impact when it comes to the spread of germs or the spread of ideas. As a result, we now have at our disposal new ways to accelerate the adoption of desirable practices as diverse as vaccination in rural villages and seat-belt use among urban schoolchildren.
> It is time to create new social science departments that reflect the breadth and complexity of the problems we face as well as the novelty of 21st-century science. These would include departments of biosocial science, network science, neuroeconomics, behavioral genetics and computational social science. Eventually, these departments would themselves be dismantled or transmuted as science continues to advance.
> Some recent examples offer a glimpse of the potential. At Yale, the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs applies diverse social sciences to the study of international issues and offers a new major. At Harvard, the sub-discipline of physical anthropology, which increasingly relies on modern genetics, was hived off the anthropology department to make the department of human evolutionary biology. Still, such efforts are generally more like herds splitting up than like new species emerging. We have not yet changed the basic DNA of the social sciences. Failure to do so might even result in having the natural sciences co-opt topics rightly and beneficially in the purview of the social sciences.
> New social science departments could also help to better train students by engaging in new types of pedagogy. For example, in the natural sciences, even college freshmen do laboratory experiments. Why is this rare in the social sciences? When students learn about social phenomena, why don't they go to the lab to examine them - how markets reach equilibrium, how people cooperate, how social ties are formed? Newly invented tools make this feasible. It is now possible to use the Internet to enlist thousands of people to participate in randomized experiments. This seems radical only because our current social science departments weren't organized to teach this way.
> For the past century, people have looked to the physical and biological sciences to solve important problems. The social sciences offer equal promise for improving human welfare; our lives can be greatly improved through a deeper understanding of individual and collective behavior. But to realize this promise, the social sciences, like the natural sciences, need to match their institutional structures to today's intellectual challenges.
> Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and sociologist at Yale University, is a co-director of the Yale Institute for Network Science.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> Sent: Monday, July 22, 2013 9:16 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Luria - New Vodka Old Bottle PDF
> Greg, I think you are completely right with the way you describe the interdisciplinary blindness inquestion. Michael Hedelberger (for yet another example) referred to the "folk psychology" of natural scientists, neuroscientists in particular, when they unwittingly step outside their discipline and talk about psychology instead of brains.
> Also, I think you are completely right in disagreeing with suggestions to replace the relevant interdisciplinary gulf with a dichotomy beween thinking and speaking, and insisting that actions always include thinking and that speaking is an action. Otherwise, we are not talking about actions, but behaviour. Behaviour is the result of abstracting actions away from consciousness. And thinking cannot be abstracted away from voluntary motor actions which was the topic of Luria's book, of course.
> And this is the point isn't it? Whether a sensible social science can abstract from (individual) consciousness and rely only on objectified forms of mind (such as the recorded word), and whether a sensible psychology can absrtact away from the formative processes of the practical and material objectifications of thought inherited by every individual from their societal environment.
> Greg Thompson wrote:
>> 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
>> discourse/action distinction.
>> 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 ________________
>>> because ___________________."
>>> 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
>>> Site Coordinator
>>> Montview Elementary, Aurora, CO
>>> From: email@example.com [firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf
>>> Of Glassman, Michael [email@example.com]
>>> Sent: Monday, July 22, 2013 12:16 PM
>>> 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.
> *Andy Blunden*
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts