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[Xmca-l] Re: CHAT and Community Psychology
- To: Roland Tharp <email@example.com>, "Cliff O'Donnell" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: CHAT and Community Psychology
- From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2013 23:55:14 +1000
- Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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
(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:
Please find our responses to your questions attached. Thank you for
On Sat, Aug 10, 2013 at 3:58 AM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com
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?