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[Xmca-l] Re: Activity theory approach to conceptualizing Community
The term community is indeed polysemous. Sense of community has been
influential in community psychology (see the Fisher, et al. and
Sarason references in our article), but it is one of many uses of the
term community. We agree with "communities presented as activity
systems." In our view community is defined by activity settings, which
in turn can be interrelated in larger systems.
We didn't mean to imply that any word is held in common by all members
of a group. Intersubjectivity and their shared meanings don't imply
uniformity. In our view, these ambiguities are best resolved
empirically, e.g., in interventions ("no speculation about underlying
processes occurs without asking about its action implications.’’
Price and Behrens, 2003, p. 222). That is a important reason for
greater unification of CHAT and Cultural Community Psychology.
On Aug 14, 2013, at 8:55 AM, Lubomir Savov Popov wrote:
Regarding the polysemy of the term Community, it might be useful to
see the interpretations in Urban Planning and relate them to the
conceptualizations in Urban Sociology. I am talking about
territorial communities VS virtual communities.
In my opinion, the activity theory approach is very productive in
conceptualizing, analyzing and developing territorial communities.
In such cases, communities are presented as activity systems. The
subjects and the culture become components or aspects of the
system(s). Of course there are many other aspects that can be
integrated in one whole through the activity system. In this case
the concept of activity works as a conceptual configurator that
provides a framework for integrating all aspects and levels. The
whole society can be represented as an activity system with a number
of major subsystems. Then each subsystem can be sub-sub- "divided."
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com
] On Behalf Of mike cole
Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 1:07 PM
To: Andy Blunden; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Activity Setting
All concerned with this thread.
I am uncertain of anywhere that Vygotsky uses the term, "activity
and most of the time when he uses the term, it seems that he does so
in a common sense way, not as a technical term. Examples from text
with citations would help here.
In our research in recent years we have worked with people who live
in a subsidized housing project. When saying what we do to curious
colleagues, we refer to "university- community partnerships/
projects. But among ourselves, there is an ongoing discussion and
considerable uneasiness in our promiscuous use of the term, community.
One thing about Cliff and Roland's article that I found myself
wondering about is their use of the term, community. Culture is
quite explicitly defined. Why not community? My guess is that the
polysemy noted for activity and culture will reign here too, but I
am a neophyte looking for direction which is why this article is
interesting to me. I have downloaded two articles from a special
issue of J Community Psychology from a special issue in 1996 that
take on the notion of "sense of community" which is traced back to
Sarason in Nelson and Prilleltiensky's text on Community Psychology.
If people are interested, email me directly.
Concerning statements about culture, meaning, sense and
understanding in the article an some of the comments here. The
following kind of statement strikes me as ambiguous and potentially
a source of misunderstanding, as reasonable as it appears (David's
recent note is relevant here):
"culture is concerned with questions of shared *social *meanings,
that is, the various
ways we make sense of the world."
I believe that Vygotsky distinguished sense and meaning, with
meaning being "the most stable pole" of sense. To reduce culture to
stable meanings runs the danger of losing the idea of culture as a
process. At the same time, the notion that any word in any language
has a meaning entirely held in common by all members of the social
group involved seems really doubtful. The term, "shared" could use
some reflection in this regard.
Reading with interest while dodging deadlines. :-) mike
On Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 11:03 PM, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Overlapping is OK, but I am intrigued by the problem of the
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
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
what you call "intersubjectivity." Ask a victim of sexual abuse by
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.