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[Xmca-l] Re: units of analysis?

Good question, Mike!  What you're pointing out is that LSV's own example doesn't quite do justice to his analysis in T&L.  Water is not a dynamic system: once hydrogen bonds with oxygen the process stops: water is a stable molecule. He should have picked an example in which an internal tension or clash of some kind provides a continual motor for change.

In somewhat the same way, I'm trying to figure out how a triangle is dynamic. It's one of the most stable geometric shapes.  :)


On Oct 12, 2014, at 10:26 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> Martin. What is the contradiction between hydrogen and oxygen such that two
> atoms of hydrogen combined with one atom of oxygen give rise to water with
> its distinctive qualities? Knowing that should help people to rise to the
> concrete for their own cases.
> mike
> On Sun, Oct 12, 2014 at 6:43 PM, Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co
>> wrote:
>> Well, if it works for you, Helena..!  :)
>> Clearly Yrjo does claim that the triangle represents a dynamic system with
>> contradictions. I'm still reading the chapter that Mike linked to, and I
>> already some questions. But I'll wait until I read it all before posting.
>> Martin
>> On Oct 12, 2014, at 6:10 PM, Helena Worthen <helenaworthen@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> On the contrary.
>>> To me, that very affordance is one of the great things about activity
>> theory and the activity system as a unit of analysis. A very simple example
>> is that if you change something in the norms/customs/laws/history corner of
>> the triangle (like win a court case that gives you a stronger footing in
>> bargaining), then your tools also change. Another: if by bringing new
>> members into the community (the base of the triangle) out of which division
>> of labor raises the subjects, you may find yourself with a leadership team
>> that is not all white, or not all primarily English-speaking, which in turn
>> will change what tools/resources you have and may, if you're lucky and
>> quick, change your history.
>>> Helena Worthen
>>> helenaworthen@gmail.com
>>> On Oct 12, 2014, at 2:54 PM, Martin John Packer wrote:
>>>> And what's neat about this way of thinking is that it implies that,
>> once one understands the relationships among the components, one can bring
>> about changes in one component in the totality by acting on *another*
>> component of the totality.
>>>> The activity system triangle does not suggest to me this type of
>> relationship among components. Instead, it seems to represent elements that
>> are only accidentally brought together.
>>>> Martin
>>>> On Oct 12, 2014, at 2:43 PM, Martin John Packer <
>> mpacker@uniandes.edu.co> wrote:
>>>>> Seems to me the problem in many research projects is that the question
>> is not formulated in an appropriate way. LSV was exploring a method of
>> analysis that seeks to understand the relationship among components in a
>> complex totality. Not the causal influence of one factor on another, which
>> is often how students frame their research interest. And this means that
>> the unit of analysis has to represent, exemplify, this relationship.
>>>>> Martin
>>>>> On Oct 12, 2014, at 1:31 PM, Helena Worthen <helenaworthen@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>>>>> As someone who uses the concept of "unit of analysis" in a very
>> down-to-earth, quick and dirty, applied way to shape collective responses
>> to a crisis in a labor and employment relationships (like, when a rule
>> changes creates difficulties for workers), I would agree with Andy:
>>>>>>> The other thing is that discovering a unit of analysis is an
>> *insight*. It
>>>>>>> is not something that can be achieved by following a template, it is
>> the
>>>>>>> breakthrough in your research into some problem, the leap. It
>> usually comes
>>>>>>> *after* you've collected all the data for your research using some
>> other
>>>>>>> unit of analysis.
>>>>>> First comes the story, the details, the experiences. The question
>> lying behind the telling of the stories is, "What are we going to do?" The
>> unit of analysis gets defined by the purpose we are trying to accomplish.
>> Are we trying to get the employer to back off temporarily? Are we trying
>> get the rule changed? Example:  In a big hospital system in Chicago,
>> clerical workers were no longer allowed to leave an "I'm going to be late
>> to work today" or "I have to stay home with my sick kid today and will miss
>> work" message on the answering machines of their supervisors. We're talking
>> about a workforce with hundreds of employees, most of them middle aged
>> minority women -- with grandchildren and extended families to be
>> responsible for.  Not being allowed to leave a message on a machine, but
>> being required to actually speak to a supervisor in person who would then
>> keep a record of the call, was a problem because supervisors were often
>> away from their desks and the whole phone system was unreliable. Also, a
>> lot of workers didn't have cell phones at the time this was happening
>> (2004) and pay phones are few and far between, so if someone it out buying
>> more asthma inhalers for a grandkid, making a phone call is not easy.
>>>>>> So, exactly what is the purpose that we're trying to accomplish,
>> here?  To repeal the rule? To fix the phone system?  To educate members of
>> the union and other others about how to respond collectively to something
>> that only affects some of them? To make a profound change in society so
>> that middle-aged women are not the primary caretakers of an extended
>> family?  Pick one. Once you've picked one (hopefully, one that you can
>> carry out) you can define the unit of analysis and then reviewing the whole
>> Engestrom triangle and evaluating your strategy becomes, as Andy says,  a
>> matter of solving puzzles.
>>>>>>> From the employer point of view, asking workers to actually speak to
>> a live supervisor makes a certain sense. That's why we talk about activity
>> system(s), not just one activity system. But they are often in conflict
>> with each other, which adds to the drama.
>>>>>> Is the data in your study being gathered with some purpose in mind?
>> Is the purpose the purpose of the children, the purpose of the class, or
>> the purpose of the PhdD program?  To me, what would be most interesting
>> would be a comparison between the unit of analysis (purposes of children)
>> and unit of analysis (purpose of classroom). I'll bet they're not identical.
>>>>>> Helena
>>>>>> Helena Worthen
>>>>>> helenaworthen@gmail.com
>>>>>> On Oct 12, 2014, at 10:20 AM, Katerina Plakitsi wrote:
>>>>>>> This problem of the ' unit of analysis' is my concern too. I
>> supervise
>>>>>>> three PHD students on Science Education in a CHAT context. Two of
>> them on
>>>>>>> early childhood science education and one on primary science. They
>> have
>>>>>>> collected log files, children discourses consisted of
>>>>>>> scientific justifications, accepted rules, and forms of division of
>> labor.
>>>>>>> They have collected children narratives, and drawings. When they
>> decided to
>>>>>>> analyze their data they follow different paths into CHAT context
>> mainly
>>>>>>> modeling them using Engestrom's triangle. They still doubt about the
>> " unit
>>>>>>> of analysis".
>>>>>>> Στις Κυριακή, 12 Οκτωβρίου 2014, ο χρήστης Andy Blunden <
>> ablunden@mira.net>
>>>>>>> έγραψε:
>>>>>>>> Katie, picking up on your concern about units of analysis, it was
>> one of
>>>>>>>> the points I mentioned in my "report" from ISCAR, that this concept
>> was
>>>>>>>> almost lost to us. A phrase I heard a lot, and which was new for
>> me, was
>>>>>>>> "unit to be analysed." If anyone knows the origin of this
>> expression, I'd
>>>>>>>> be interested in hearing. It seemed to me that what it referred to
>> was a
>>>>>>>> "closed system" for analysis, that is, abandoning CHAT methodology
>> whilst
>>>>>>>> keeping the word. If I am mistaken about this, please let me know.
>>>>>>>> The other thing is that discovering a unit of analysis is an
>> *insight*. It
>>>>>>>> is not something that can be achieved by following a template, it
>> is the
>>>>>>>> breakthrough in your research into some problem, the leap. It
>> usually comes
>>>>>>>> *after* you've collected all the data for your research using some
>> other
>>>>>>>> unit of analysis. In Kuhn's terms, discovery of the unit is the new
>>>>>>>> paradigm, after which it is just a matter of solving puzzles. So for
>>>>>>>> graduate students to use the concept of unit in their research,
>> often
>>>>>>>> depends on the wisdom of teh direction they get from their
>> supervisor. I
>>>>>>>> don't know how many PhD students I've met who have got to this
>> point in
>>>>>>>> their thesis and discover that the data they have is not the data
>> they now
>>>>>>>> know they need.
>>>>>>>> Andy
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>>>>>>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>>>>>>> Katherine Wester Neal wrote:
>>>>>>>>> I like Holli's plan to commit some time to reading the two
>> articles. But,
>>>>>>>>> as usual, I don't know that I'll have much to contribute in posts.
>> I
>>>>>>>>> usually get deep in thinking about the posts and don't follow that
>> through
>>>>>>>>> to write something. The writing is much harder, and I am usually
>> just
>>>>>>>>> trying to keep up with reading!
>>>>>>>>> For me, the thread has been fascinating, probably because I'm
>> interested
>>>>>>>>> in different units of analysis, what they might be used for, and
>> how they
>>>>>>>>> fit together with theory and conducting research. What are people
>> doing
>>>>>>>>> with units of analysis and why? Or why aren't units of analysis
>> being used?
>>>>>>>>> If anyone wants to write more in that direction, I'd be very
>> interested to
>>>>>>>>> read, and I'll try to respond, although the questions might be as
>> basic as
>>>>>>>>> these.
>>>>>>>>> Lastly, Andy has basically been articulating my thoughts (in a
>> much more
>>>>>>>>> eloquent way than I would) about action as a unit of analysis. In
>> Mike's
>>>>>>>>> example about driving and thinking and writing, I'd add that the
>> action is
>>>>>>>>> mediated. Together with sociocultural and historical factors that
>>>>>>>>> influenced those actions (and which, as has been said here before,
>> are
>>>>>>>>> often difficult to get a look at), the actions create a picture of
>> much
>>>>>>>>> more than just Mike's behavior.
>>>>>>>>> Katie
>>>>>>>>> Katie Wester-Neal
>>>>>>>>> University of Georgia
>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>> ............................................................
>>>>>>> Katerina Plakitsi
>>>>>>> Associate Professor of Science Education
>>>>>>> School of Education
>>>>>>> University of Ioannina
>>>>>>> University Campus Dourouti 45110
>>>>>>> Ioannina
>>>>>>> Greece
>>>>>>> tel. +302651005771
>>>>>>> fax. +302651005842
>>>>>>> mobile.phone +306972898463
>>>>>>> http://users.uoi.gr/kplakits
>>>>>>> http://erasmus-ip.uoi.gr
>>>>>>> http://www.lib.uoi.gr/serp
> -- 
> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.