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[Xmca-l] Re: Activity Setting

Overlapping is OK, but I am intrigued by the problem of the conditions which give rise to failure of mutual understanding.

Cliff, are you familiar with Jean Lave's book "Situated Learning"? In that she looks at several different traditional systems of apprenticeship. With the meat-trade apprentices, the masters assign the apprentices to completely different, low-skill tasks, located in a different space from where they do the high-skill, valued work of their trade. This contrasts, obviously, with other forms of apprenticeship which facilitate graduated introduction to the skilled work, including lots of opportunity for observation and partial participation. Her observations tend to support your thesis.

On the other hand, there are plenty of examples in all kinds of hierarchical institutions from school classrooms to line-management organisations to the Church, the family and voluntary organisations, where participation in the same activity is presaged on very unequal power relations being normalised in the activity. Now I think that in our discussion of slavery we agreed that even with such an extreme imbalance of power, some kind of understanding of the other is achieved by each party, but I don't know if this would really count as what you call "intersubjectivity." Ask a victim of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

It seems to me that "shared" participation in an activity is a precondition for attaining shared semantic, theoretical and practical norms, but not sufficient. It also depends on the social positions adopted by participants in the activity.


carolmacdon@gmail.com wrote:
They share the concept of birthday party so for Andy that would count as shared meaning in a culture. Sure they see it differently but there is an overlap.
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!

-----Original Message-----
From: "Cliff O'Donnell" <cliffo@hawaii.edu>
Sender: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2013 18:48:14 To: Andy Blunden<ablunden@mira.net>; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity<xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Reply-To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Activity Setting

What I am left wondering about is your observation in the context of the intervention in the American Indigenous community that "the groups (adults on one hand and youth on the other) formed different cultural communities." Is the "cultural" qualification to "communities" the operative word in this surprising claim? I.e., they belong to the same community, but not the same "cultural community"?

They belong to, i.e. live in, the same town, but not the same cultural communities. They participate in mostly different activity settings and have developed different shared meanings. Even when they are participating in the same general activity, say a birthday party, they still group with their own youth/adults and often have a different shared meaning of the event (as when female youth see adult men becoming intoxicated at the party and expect sexual abuse to follow).

It is quite the norm, isn't it, for such chisms to exist within communities.

Yes, it is common for different groups to vary, sometimes dramatically, in the activity settings in which they participate. This phenomena can then be useful as an indicator of different cultural communities within the same town, high school, etc.


Clifford R. O'Donnell, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Past-President, Society for Community Research and Action (APA Division 27)

University of Hawai‘i
Department of Psychology
2530 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822

*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts