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[Xmca-l] Re: CHAT and Community Psychology

Thank you very much for your considered response, Roland and Cliff.

Just a couple of follow ups, because I think healing an interdisciplinary gap requires the maximum possible clarity over shared concepts.

(1) I am still not clear about the meaning of "acitivity setting." I have read Wertsch, and I have nothing at all against him, but I am just not as familiar with his work as I would like to be. But I have read a lot of Vygotsky and never came across the term "activity setting" in Vygotsky's writing. There may be an issue of different translations possibly. I wonder if you could perhaps scan a page of a book where Vygotsky explains his meaning or at least uses the term. I have generally come across the term used to indicate, for example, the school, or family or a specific workplace, and the norms and rules and expectations prevailing in those settings. I gather you take "setting" to refer to a particular, rather than a general, such as "family" or "school." So "Sandy Bay Elementary" would be an activity setting, but not "school," which would be just a type of activity setting. I see that "activity setting" is an activity, but includes the particulars, such as the participating individuals and the physical surroundings. It seems such an important concept for you, as Community Psychologists, I would appreciate more specification.

(2) By me taking an extreme example (slavery) we quickly achieved agreement that further specification of "shared activities" is needed for an understanding of how mutual understanding arises. (Of course it did to an extent under slavery too). I categorise forms of collaboration into 3 modes: direction (line management, command-and-obey, as pertains in the normal capitalist firm or public service department), exchange (purchase and sale, customer-service provider, as pertains in the market place) and collaboration as such (mutual criticism, shared attribution and decision-making). It seems to me that distinctions like these are important. Being a teacher or boss in a community, especially if you are otherwise an outsider, can be problematic, even though you are engaged in a "shared activity" with the locals. I was really impressed by the examples you cited, so obviously you have thought these issues through. What is the anatomy of an "activity setting" then?

(3) What other ways do you conceptualise "context"?

(and please not "Professor," I am an independent scholar, retired.)

Roland Tharp wrote:
Professor Blunden,

Please find our responses to your questions attached. Thank you for your interest.

Roland Tharp
Cliff O'Donnell

On Sat, Aug 10, 2013 at 3:58 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Thanks for sharing that very interesting paper, Mike. From what I
    see, there is little justification for the dislocation between
    these two research communities - CHAT and Community Psychology.
    Their aims, sources and methods seem so similar and compatible.

    I would just like to ask the authors a couple of questions.

    * Do you take "activity setting" to be the optimal conception of

    * What exactly do they understand by "activity setting"? You cite
    Vygotsky in a book edited by Wertsch, but I do not have that book.
    I associate "activity setting" with the current of CHAT around
    Mariane Hedegaard. It seems to me to be similar in meaning to
    "institution". Thus I quetion the efficacy of this concept for
    grasping social change, as opposed to just child development.

    * Is "mutual understanding" is what you mean by "intersubjectivity"?

    * I agree that participation in shared activities is the necessary
    condition for peope to achieve mutual understanding. But this is
    not necessarily the outcome, is it? It depends on the type of
    collaboration within the activity. EG White slaveowners and black
    slaves collaborated in the production of cotton in the Confederate
    States of America for many years, but this did not result in
    mutual understanding. So it seems that the notion of "shared
    actvities" needs further specification. Yes?