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[Xmca-l] Re: Intrinsic motivation?

I think that when you conceive of the "context" as *activities*, then it is not something of a different kind or scale than the "narratives" or "projects" which a person participates in or aspires toward, and which form their personality. The question which is posed is the relation(s) *between* activities or projects ... as opposed to inside/outside or individual/society or action/context relations and so on ... such characterisations as these latter ones are inevitably abstract and intractable. So it is not person-environment relations, or person-person relations, but project-project relations which are critical to the development of a person's personality and to the development of the relevant social formation.

Hope that makes sense.
*Andy Blunden*

Maria Cristina Migliore wrote:
Hi to everybody,

Very interesting debate this one on motivation.

My PhD dissertation was on ‘motivation’ to workplace learning in the case
of older workers in the shop floor in the industrial sector, in a western
‘developed’ context such the north of Italy.

I have chosen to adopt the concept of motives to learning instead of the
too much cognitivist concept of motivation.

The proposal - here in this debate - to integrate this concept by
specifying that motivation is *justified* and *mediated* does not satisfy
my need of positioning myself in the CHAT perspective. I have problem to
accept this part of the definition of motivation: “the person’s long term
characterological story of an intrinsically motivated person”.

It seems to me that this conceptualization of motivation focuses on the
individual, as separated from the context. The context is now *in* the
individual. We look at the individual and the context is only a backcloth.

In my doctoral research I have elaborated on the concept of motives and
hierarchy of motives from the work of Leontiev in “Activity, Consciousness,
and Personality”. I think that the Leontiev’s concept of motives is more
useful when one uses the CHAT perspective and wants to overcome the dualism
individuals/contexts. This concept offers a way to look at the single
development of people and activities.

This single development can be seen for motive is what is behind an
activity. My interpretation of Leontiev’s work is that all of us
internalize motives by participating in collective and material activities,
which are driven by the objects. Object is “the true motive” of the
activity. Motives have collective meanings. When motives are internalized
with their collective meanings, the person personalizes them on the basis
of her experiences. Every one is a unique constellation of experiences and
motives, which they continuously organize hierarchically. This is the
moment of subjectification (subjectivity) of the process of internalization
(of motives) - highlighted by Stetsenko in her article on MCA in 2005-, a
moment between internalization and externalization.

I discuss these ideas in my thesis uploaded in Academia.edu.

Thanks to this approach I was able to conclude my research with some
indications to policy makers about types of intervention to support the
single development of people and activities. I tell this here as a comment
to what Greg has said about the macro level and its transformation: “these
larger structures are much more intractable to change”. I am wondering
whether this thought stems from the adoption of a theoretical perspective
which is still marked by the Cartesian dualism and prevents to see how
everything is connected.

Maria-Cristina Migliore

Turin (Italy)

2014-08-04 5:54 GMT+02:00 Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>:

ditto. "but" traded for "and"...
As to the question about transforming our relations, I'm not so sure that a
changed understanding of motivation is going to do all that.

What I do think it could do is:

1. Serve as a push-back against the "I built that" mentality of the
American bourgeoisie (this was a Republican cry in the last election) in
which it is assumed that those who have "made it" have done it because of
their "intrinsic motivation" or their ability to "delay gratification". In
contrast, poor people are seen as people who want it and they want it now!
This was my reference to the famous marshmallow study where a kid is given
a marshmallow and told if they can wait, they will get two marshmallows -
and this was supposed to predict later success in life! Seems like a
troubling road to go down. Seems like this is bourgeois psychology at its

2. But perhaps the more useful point is caught up in Luria's notion of the
importance of contexts for changing behavior. If we are working with kids
and want them to change their behavior then this suggests that we shouldn't
sit there and preach to them about how they should try harder in school or
"apply themselves" more or have more "intrinsic motivation" or whatever.
Rather, it seems like the task is to look to create contexts in which they
can realize themselves in ways that look like our much desired "socially
justified intrinsic motivation". The point is that motivation has
everything to do with the context, and I think that there is a real key

Everyone has examples of kids who appear in school to be lacking any
motivations other than "extrinsic" ones and yet these same students will
apply themselves in remarkably "intrinsic" ways in areas other than
schooling. As a quick example, I have a colleague, Jonathan Rosa (Umass
Amherst) who worked with some Mexican American high school kids in Chicago
when he was doing his dissertation research. He became particularly close
with one student who wasn't doing particularly well in school but who loved
Bolly-wood movies. He loved them so much that he kept notebooks of the
translations of the Urdu words that were provided on the screen so that he
basically had started making his English-Urdu dictionary.

The point here is that we tend to think of individuals as the sole locus of
intervention. Much greater attention needs to be paid to the making of

This is already too long of a post, but just to be clear, I'm thinking
primarily of contexts in terms of the close-in contexts of learning and
living. Larger contexts (e.g., structures of socioeconomic systems and even
the larger economic system in which one lives) need changing too, but these
larger structures are much more intractable to change. In order to maximize
effects of intervention, it seems that this meso-genetic level is the place
to work - i.e. to the making of contexts.

Just my thoughts.

On Sun, Aug 3, 2014 at 9:26 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

Sure, I'll trade my but for your and, Larry.

On Sun, Aug 3, 2014 at 7:03 PM, <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

 Greg, Mike
The phrase

 *justified* intrinsic motivation, a form of motivation that is
socio-culturally mediated BUT attributed to the person’s long term
characterological story of an intrinsically motivated person?

I was wondering if we  change BUT to AND

*justified* intrinsic motivation, a form of motivation that is
socio-culturally mediated AND attributed to the person’s long term
characterological story of an intrinsically motivated person?

speaks to a particular *horizonal perspective* of a taken for granted
story of *character* formation through *bildung*?

 Greg’s *generally acceptable* motivations the nature of which is
contingent on local culture and history.

Greg brings in the value question of *more better* horizonal
If we become  more explicitly conscious that our horizons are
socio-culturally generated then hopefully  this awareness will be
transformative.  The question I ask is

*If we are successful in  making explicit the socio-cultural horizonal
nature of our understanding of being human, will this awakening
transform our socio-cultural relations with each other?

Our *justifications* may always emerge within particular horizonal
interpretive formations.

Sent from Windows Mail

*From:* Gregory Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
*Sent:* ‎Sunday‎, ‎August‎ ‎3‎, ‎2014 ‎6‎:‎49‎ ‎PM
*To:* Mike Cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>, eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
*Cc:* xmca-l@ucsd.edu

Yes, Mike, I was thinking something like "socially justified and
acceptable" motivations, the nature of which is very much contingent on
local culture and history. Seems like all of it has extrinsic/intrinsic
aspects to it but some are just considered "more better" than others.

And yes Cathrene, I agree. I think you caught that the object of my
was not John-Steiner and Hersh - they were just using a concept that I
myself frequently use. Your characterization of subcultures that
"inherent" (scare quotes are required, I think) worth of certain
accomplishments is right on. But it must be more than just subcultures
have such a powerful effect.

Very importantly, I wonder, without fetishizing people who engage in
that is highly intrinsically rewarding, how are, for example, highly
trained athletes socialized into the catharsis (take note Andy!) of the
cognitive and affective variety that you mention?

(and returning to Mike's question we might even wonder if some of these
endeavors, e.g. the Olympic athlete, are really socially justified and
generally acceptable? Isn't there a certain vanity and
(socially "bad" traits!) here too?).

Happy grading Cathrene! Hope you are feeling intrinsically motivated
the proper, socially justified manner...).


On Sun, Aug 3, 2014 at 12:27 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

Maybe you could call it "justified" intrinsic motivation, a form of
motivation that is socio-culturally mediated but attributed to the
individual's long term characterological story of an intrinsically
motivated person?

On Sun, Aug 3, 2014 at 10:52 AM, Cathrene Connery <

Hi Greg:
I think you are onto something here, in light  of the fact that
dichotomies are false, especially when contextualized within the
sociocultural, historical-political complexity of human society.
John-Steiner and Hersh were specifically talking about recognition
motivation in this case, is also possible that the
scientist/artist/athelete or other thinkers-performers experience a
completely different and discipline-specific form of fulfillment
accomplishing that which has not be achieved before and /or
big "C" (vs. little "c" creative events). The sense of fulfillment,
these instances, is derived from a specialized subculture that
inherent worth of the accomplishment (such as Olympic or
athletes). I suspect that these individuals experience a type of
that involves both cognitive and affective aspects as well as
aesthetic-functional dimensions. But, I have 60 papers to grade for
school, so it is time to get back to work.

Dr. Cathrene Connery
Associate Professor of Education
Ithaca College
Department of Education
194B Phillips Hall Annex
953 Danby Road
Ithaca, New York 14850

On Aug 3, 2014, at 12:25 PM, "Greg Thompson" <

While reading David Kirshner's review of Hersh and John-Steiner's
and Hating Math book, I cam across the following characterization
Gregory Perelman's decision to refuse to accept the Fields Medal
of the apparent fact that his work had been plagiarized by a
scholar who had previously received the medal:

"“Everybody understood that if the proof is correct then no other
recognition is needed” (p. 72), which Hersh and John-Steiner
“a beautiful example of intrinsic scientific motivation” (p.
Although this makes perfect sense to me and my understanding of
motivation" from an intuitive sense, I was nonetheless struck by
that in this case, it was an EXTERNAL recognition that is taken

On the one hand, in my intuitive sense of this psychological
(as well as my emic everyday sense of it - psychological termes
part of everyday language about things like parenting and
seems that the Hersh and John-Steiner quote IS pointing to

But, on the other hand, it also seems that the motivation in this
EXTRINSIC - the mathematician is seeking recognition of others
even recognition by the "field of mathematics" - which some might
imagine to be a truth-conditional field that exists outside of
community of mathematicians). Isn't this type of motivation
the individual?

Conversely, isn't it also the case that the desire for medals and
(e.g. the Fields Medal) or even other rewards (even
thought of as INTRINSIC as well? Don't these desires have to be
person in order for the person to be motivated by them?

Seems like all motivation is both extrinsic and intrinsic, no?

And I wonder if this may be connected to the quote that Mike
Luria that a person cannot control their behaviors any more than
can carry stones?

Both seem to point to an ideology (myth) of individualism that is
among psychologists?

For those interested, here is a description of intrinsic and
"Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by
rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior
within the individual because it is intrinsically rewarding. This
with extrinsic motivation, which involves engaging in a behavior
to earn external rewards or avoid punishments."


Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602