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[Xmca-l] From Cliff O'D
Not sure what is getting through where, but pasting this message into the
email and ccing.
In response to Andy message:
*??’s fromAndy Blunden*
* Do you take "activity setting" to be the optimal conception of "context"?
No. Activity settings are contextual, but not all contexts are activity
settings. See the 5th paragraph of our article for references to other uses
** 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
We mean by ‘activity setting’ the concept drawn from Vygotsky and activity
theorists, and most directly influenced by the writing and translations of
James Wertsch and his students, all working closely and derivatively with
the original translators of the Russian under the general aegis of the M.
Cole group. Activity setting is the unified concept incorporating the *who*,
the *where*, the *when*, the *why*, and *what *specific activity is being
performed (see our references below).
As in Vygotsky, intersubjectivity flowing from shared activity depends on
accompanying semiotics (ordinarily but not necessarily verbal). Because of
the sharing of tasks and language, the activity setting is smaller rather
than larger, such as ‘institutions’. Institutions typically have many
** Is "mutual understanding" what you mean by "intersubjectivity"?*
Partly, certainly. It is the condition of like-minded interpretation and
valuation of events. Intersubjectivity is created through shared activity
with conversation, and intersubjectivity in turn fosters felt affinity.
** I agree that participation in shared activities is the necessary
condition for people 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 slave-owners 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 activities" needs further specification. Yes?*
Yes, specific instances require close observation. In your
example of slaves and owners, we would argue that such instances of shared
activity were extremely rare and considered inappropriate. The giving and
receiving of orders, or providing demonstrations, does not constitute joint
activity. This distinction is quite clear in the papers of Thomas
Jefferson, for example. Jefferson, however, did apparently violate the
propriety with certain slaves, particularly some young females. The
historical evidence seems to indicate some resultant intersubjectivity, but
severely restricted. Overall, the activity settings of slaves and
slave-owners were dramatically different. Thus we agree that the practical
design of activity settings (and their evaluations) require full
specification, as you suggest.
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