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[Xmca-l] Re: CHAT and Community Psychology

Lovely, Gentlemen, but the attachments did not make it from Andy to
XMCA so far as I can tell. Roland and Cliff, you might want to join
xmca long enough for this discussion. The signup is at


On Mon, Aug 12, 2013 at 6:55 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> 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"?
> Thanks,
> Andy
> (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
>>     "context"?
>>     * 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?
>>     thanks
>>     Andy