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[Xmca-l] Re: units of analysis?

As Julian said, a perezhivanie is a "unity of the person and their environment," that is, a unity (or relation) between a mind (for it is not the soma we are talking about, but the personality) and the material world outside the skin, between internal and external, mind and matter, objective and subjective. To say "relation" makes it sound a lot less like a contradiction. To say "unity" brings out the contradiction, because subjective and objective, mind and matter, are opposites and supposedly cannot be united. But united they are, in the formation of the personality and in experiences. "United" because it is a real process, not just a relation. "Unity" is the right term, but those of us who have been raised on Set Theory and Formal Logic, to ensure that it is not too offensive to our common sense, it is best to say "relation".

The contradiction is also in what I said before: it entails the whole of the person and the whole of the environment/world (5thD and the Iraq War), and yet it is a quite specific and finite relation (it didn't involve the War in Rwanda). It involves the whole world because it could involve *anything* in the world; the environment is unbounded. It involves the whole person because it is an experience of a person, not of an emotion or any other post facto abstraction. And yet, its impact is quite specific. It involves the whole person, and yet it is wrong to say that it is a unity of cognition and affect, because it is a whole, and only as a result of reflection (auto- or hetero-) can moments of cognition, affect, attention, be isolated.
Is that enough "contradictions" for you, Mike?
*Andy Blunden*

mike cole wrote:
Fascinating Andy.

And for perezhivanie how does it work?


On Sun, Oct 12, 2014 at 9:51 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Martin, I think it is nothing more than the limitations of a
    metaphor - it can only illustrate one aspect of the target. In
    this case it is simply saying that a quantity of water is just
    thousands H2O molecules, and nothing else. No addition is required
    to manifest all the properties of water.

    You would have to be a chemist to know the forces that bind the H
    and OH together and how they can be separated, H containing a
    positive charge and OH containing a negative charge - a good old
    positive/negative contradiction. All chemicals with the H ion are
    acids and all chemicals with the OH ion are alkali, but water is
    both acid and base and therefore neither. *If you want* the water
    molecule is a tangle of contradictions and transformations, along
    with Carbon, the foundation of the chemistry of life. :)
    *Andy Blunden*

    Martin John Packer wrote:

        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
        <mailto: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.

            On Sun, Oct 12, 2014 at 6:43 PM, Martin John Packer
            <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co <mailto:mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
                      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.


                On Oct 12, 2014, at 6:10 PM, Helena Worthen
                <helenaworthen@gmail.com <mailto:helenaworthen@gmail.com>>

                    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

                    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.

                        On Oct 12, 2014, at 2:43 PM, Martin John Packer <
                <mailto: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

                            On Oct 12, 2014, at 1:31 PM, Helena
                            Worthen <helenaworthen@gmail.com
                                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
                                    breakthrough in your research into
                                    some problem, the leap. It
                usually comes
                                    *after* you've collected all the
                                    data for your research using some
                                    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 Worthen

                                On Oct 12, 2014, at 10:20 AM, Katerina
                                Plakitsi wrote:

                                    This problem of the ' unit of
                                    analysis' is my concern too. I
                                    three PHD students on Science
                                    Education in a CHAT context. Two of
                them on
                                    early childhood science education
                                    and one on primary science. They
                                    collected log files, children
                                    discourses consisted of
                                    scientific justifications,
                                    accepted rules, and forms of
                                    division of
                                    They have collected children
                                    narratives, and drawings. When they
                decided to
                                    analyze their data they follow
                                    different paths into CHAT context
                                    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 <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>

                                        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
                                        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
                                        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
                                        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,
                                        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 Blunden*

                                        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.
                                            usually get deep in
                                            thinking about the posts
                                            and don't follow that
                                            to write something. The
                                            writing is much harder,
                                            and I am usually
                                            trying to keep up with

                                            For me, the thread has
                                            been fascinating, probably
                                            because I'm
                                            in different units of
                                            analysis, what they might
                                            be used for, and
                how they
                                            fit together with theory
                                            and conducting research.
                                            What are people
                                            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

                                            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
                                            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,
                                            often difficult to get a
                                            look at), the actions
                                            create a picture of
                                            more than just Mike's

                                            Katie Wester-Neal
                                            University of Georgia

                                    Katerina Plakitsi
                                    Associate Professor of Science
                                    School of Education
                                    University of Ioannina
                                    University Campus Dourouti 45110
                                    tel. +302651005771
                                    fax. +302651005842
                                    mobile.phone +306972898463


-- It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural
            science with an
            object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.

It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.