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[Xmca-l] Re: Activity Setting

Dear Huw,

What a wonderful collection of sources! I will go through them. Alexander is an old "acquaintance." I mean I started with him as soon as he published his Pattern Language books and followed his work thereafter. 



-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Huw Lloyd
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2013 3:02 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: Cliff O'Donnell; Roland Tharp
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Activity Setting

On 12 August 2013 18:12, Lubomir Savov Popov <lspopov@bgsu.edu> wrote:

> Hi Andy,
> I am also interested to find the term "activity setting" in Vigotsky's 
> writings or those of his followers, including everyone in the East 
> European activity theory tradition. I would appreciate articles or 
> specific references and page numbers. I need this to anchor some ideas 
> and to pay tribute to earlier theorists if they have worked on this.
> I am also interested if there are people on this list who work on the 
> development of the concept of activity setting or on activity theory 
> in relation to the planning and design of built environment. They can 
> contact me at the e-mail below my signature or via this list, 
> whichever is more convenient. I was going to make such a request on 
> this list some time ago, but now is a good occasion for this.

Hi Lubomier

Jan Derry's philosophical work on educational design, e.g.

Harry Daniels<http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4fKt9MU9w_cC&pg=PT4&dq=Harry+Daniels+2010&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-C8JUtz2NKya1AXk04H4Dw&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=Harry%20Daniels%202010&f=false>&
implicit mediation is relevant.

A popular historical on buildings (Stuart Brand):

My personal favourite (for buildings) is Christopher Alexander's original
works: A synthesis of form and the 3 volume pattern language (life affirming architecture).

If one subscribes to the notions of Conway's law<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway's_law> then one should also be studying the activity of the designers and the influence of the environment.

I have more design centric references (without reference to Activity
theory) if want them.


> To my knowledge, no one in the East European activity theory tradition 
> has used the term "activity setting," at least till the late 1980s. If 
> I have missed something, it is good to catch up.
> I personally work (on and off) on the concept of activity setting 
> since the early 1980s. However, I develop it as a methodological 
> category for the study of built environment. I have to acknowledge 
> that I got the idea for activity setting from Roger Barker's "behavior 
> setting." At that time, in East Europe, the concept of behavior was 
> considered one-sided and with less explanatory power than the concept 
> of activity. There was no way to introduce the behavior setting 
> concept without setting the reaction of mainstream social scientists. 
> Even if someone dared to suggest the behavior setting concept in an 
> article, the reviewers will automatically recommend to rework it as 
> "activity setting." In East European social science of that time, 
> behavior referred mostly to the visible, mechanistic aspects of activity or in the sense of "demeanor."
> Bob Bechtel has done a good work in the early 1980 expanding on 
> Barker's behavior setting, operationalizing his ideas for the field of 
> Environment and Behavior (Architecture and Human Behavior; Man-Environment Systems).
>  However, this work didn't continue. On the other hand, at that time, 
> it was too early to talk about activity settings in the USA. It is 
> early even now, in particular in the field of Environment and 
> Behavior. Many people in that field resent the idea of ditching 
> behavior for activity. They believe that the concept of behavior 
> setting is good enough and there is no need to introduce one more concept of similar kind.
> In relation to the field of Environment and Behavior, I personally 
> believe that Barker has offered very useful ideas and they can become 
> a stepping stone for developing the concept of activity setting. The 
> activity setting concept will allow us to use the apparatus of 
> activity theory which is more powerful than the concept of behavior. I 
> also believe that the development of the activity setting theory for 
> the fields of teaching or management or social work and community 
> building will be somewhat different. Their focus will be different and 
> this will lead to working on different details. As usual, it is not 
> possible to study everything about one object of study. We have to 
> make difficult choices regarding aspects and depth: what to study first, what to defer, and what to skip.
> Barker had a lot of conflicts with main stream psychologists (not 
> activity theorists). I have heard from Bob Bechtel (a student of 
> Barker) that psychologists were telling Barker: Roger, you think just 
> like a sociologist, which in psychological parlance meant Roger, you are a SOB.
> This illustrates the disciplinary biases and divisions.
> Best wishes,
> Lubomir
> Lubomir Popov, Ph.D.
> School of Family and Consumer Sciences American Culture Studies 
> Affiliated Faculty Bowling Green State University
> 309 Johnston Hall,
> Bowling Green, Ohio 43403-0059
> Lspopov@bgsu.edu
> 419.372.7835
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> Sent: Monday, August 12, 2013 9:55 AM
> To: Roland Tharp; Cliff O'Donnell
> Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [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"?
> 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
> >