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[Xmca-l] Re: Article for Discussion

Greg, to respond to your question on the strength of a cable. It is actually calculated the same way as a single piece of steel, but cable brings the advantages of flexibility and "insurance", in that a defect in one strand does not run across the whole cable. So it is stronger by being more reliable.

My remark about "lock step" was that CCP seemed to rely on people doing things together (such as playing games or doing routine work together) so that people had the same experience, like marching in time to the same music. It seems to me that the bonding and understanding which arises from collaboration is the creative mutual appropriation which arises out of conflict. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. So for CCP "intersubjectivity" indicating this empathy arising from identical experiences. For CHAT of course "intersubjectivity" is a very general category referring to participating in a same activity, but probably in very different ways and with different feelings and beliefs.

On shared concepts, of course we need shared concepts. My "warning" was just the obvious point that appropriating concepts can be the actual source of misunderstanding. An example of this is the constant complaints by Russians that the Americans have misunderstood Vygotsky. Care has to be taken. At first sight a new word seems to fit nicely into one's own point of view because it is "appropriated" and given a meaning which makes sense within the system of one's own view. So one and the same word has different meanings in different currents of thinking. It is necessary to enter somewhat more into the totality of ideas from which a word comes to acquire the concept it is indicating. Nonetheless, understanding a few concepts, properly, belonging to another science, is most important to successful interdisciplinarity.

*Andy Blunden*
On 24/03/2016 3:08 AM, Greg Thompson wrote:

Regarding your concern with the lock-step of feeling the same emotions and values in the same situations, I wonder if the same might be said of your concern with "the dangers inherent in appropriating expressions like these," and your insistence on "shared concepts"

In the case of the concept, it seems like you may be asking for a lock-step of harmonious meaning in which the meanings of a concept are policed (by whom? whose conception of the concept rules the meaning?) to ensure that everyone is "thinking the same thing" when they deploy the concept (e.g., "zone of proximal development").

I wonder if Starr's "boundary objects" might be useful here to free up concepts a bit?

Can we imagine concepts being differently meaningful to different people engaged in different activities? (and indeed, I wonder if this might be the only way to ensure that a concept can exist).

I'm sympathetic to the concerns of some kind of Derrida-ian anarchy of meaning in which nothing means anything, and I understand that the particular value of a concept as a transformative act (e.g., to see the world differently) often depends on a very particular and specific meaning of that concept (the understanding of which has everything to do with the cultural and historical context of that concept!).

But, when it comes to concepts, might there be some middle ground between legislated lock-step meaning and anarchical, meaningless meaning? (and perhaps this is necessary for "development" too, both individual and community, for who was able to really "get" Vygotsky upon first introduction?)

Andy, upon a second reading of your post, I suspect that this is what you were getting at in your post, so please forgive me for sounding ignorant of your meaning!

Delighted at the conversation about interdisciplinarity.

Very best,

On Sun, Mar 20, 2016 at 4:34 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    I don't know if the issue is having common interests,
    Cliff. I think it's very productive, even necessary,
    that each little bunch of us has different concerns
    and shines light on different aspects of human life.
    But what we really need is shared concepts, through
    which we can understand each other and collaborate. So
    it is good news that CC has appropriated zone of
    proximal development, activity setting, shared
    activity and the law of genetic development.
    I think we need to be very conscious of the dangers
    inherent in appropriating expressions like these
    though. You pointed out that in the early days of CC,
    "'cultural psychology' was generally practiced as
    'cross-cultural', largely as comparison studies", but
    everything I read in your paper tends to suggest
    "culture" is still understood and used in just this
    sense. Consequently it is very easy to miss the
    meaning attached to "culture" in CHAT, which, after
    all, originated in pretty much a mono-cultural
    situation. One word can index different concepts.
    Achieving interdisciplinarity is only achieved by
    means of shared concepts. But on the other hand, since
    the content of a concept is ultimately the larger
    system of practices to which it is indigenous, it
    seems almost as if a concept can only be shared when
    the broader context of its use is already assimilated.
    Along these lines, it was a little while before I
    realised that you were using the word
    "intersubjectivity" with quite a different meaning
    than I would. It seems to denote empathy.
    "Intersubjectivity involves co-actors feeling the same
    emotions and values in the same situations," and I
    don't even know it means to "feel values."
    Connected with this the description of joint action,
    turned out to be in sharp contrast to my conception of
    it. As I see it, collaboration (my preferred term,
    rather than "joint action") necessarily entails both
    moments of conflict as well as cooperation. Harmony
    and bliss are great things, but I think they are
    rather cheaply purchased simply by everyone marching
    in step.
    I suspect that these two examples of shared words
    indicating different concepts are connected to the
    hope of mutual appropriation by means of having a
    "center of commonality."

    *Andy Blunden*

    On 20/03/2016 12:28 PM, Cliff O'Donnell wrote:

        Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Alfredo.
        Roland and I thought that although CC and CHAT
        have many common interests, most folks in each
        appeared to be unaware of the other (judging by
        the infrequency of common citations). As described
        in our article, we and several of our colleagues
        have been influenced by CHAT and have used CHAT
        concepts in our research and intervention
        programs. As for influence in the opposite
        direction, perhaps the KEEP project, Seymour
        Sarason's work, and some of Maynard's work with
        Greenfield. Also Kurt Lewin is a source common to
        both CC and CHAT. I too would be interested to
        hear of additional influence in the opposite

        You are correct that Delta Theory builds on
        psychosocial systems with Vygotsky as an important
        source. Delta Theory boldly attempts to be a
        universal theory of how change occurs using Delta
        as the symbol for change.

        I'm pleased that you found the discussion of
        cognitive science, psycho-neurology, and a
        potential center of commonality in psychology of
        interest! That is the goal of the article, i.e.,
        to show how the commonality of CC and CHAT have
        the potential to form that commonality with
        developmental, educational, cognitive, and
        neuro-psychology. Hopefully this discussion format
        will facilitate interest in the process.


        On Mar 19, 2016, at 6:17 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:

            Thanks Cliff and Mike for sharing this
            interesting article. I was not familiar to
            cultural community psychology and this and the
            other papers in the symposium do a great job
            introducing and concisely describing the
            field, and how it evolved from community to
            cultural community psychology.

            As I was reading, I wondered how much the
            influence of CHAT literature had influenced
            the development of community psychology itself
            from the start. As I progressed in my reading,
            I then found clear references to these
            influences, which even meant the delay of the
            publishing of Roland's work, I assume, due to
            the important input that Vygotsky's
            publications meant for the project. But then I
            wondered on what had been other sources. What
            were other foundational influences to the
            field? I'd be interested to know about them in
            part because, while the paper discusses many
            examples in which CHAT gives input to CC, I
            would like to know more about the (possible)
            inputs in the other direction.

            Also, I found interesting the mention of a new
            center of commonality in psychology in
            general. I was glad to see, however brief,
            mentions to research in cognitive science and
            psycho-neurology. In your paper, Delta theory
            is mentioned as a move forward towards
            integration. In the case of CHAT, this was
            pursued by means of developing a scientific
            discipline based on dialectical materialism
            and the sociogenetic method. Delta theory (I
            just had a very brief first contact) seems to
            build upon the notion of psychosocial systems.
            This sounds very much in line with Vygotsky,
            who surely is a central source. Again, here I
            would love to hear what other insights/sources
            are involved that may provide new insights to
            those more familiar to CHAT but not so much
            with CC and Delta theory.


            From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
            <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>> on
            behalf of mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu
            Sent: 18 March 2016 02:39
            To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
            Subject: [Xmca-l]  Article for Discussion

            Dear XCMA-er-o-philes-

            We thought it appropriate to put up for
            discussion the paper by Roland
            Tharp and Cliff  O'Donnell from the most
            recent issue of MCA. Roland wanted
            to stimulate discussion among what he and
            Cliff saw as people with a strong
            family resemblance. He passed away before this
            part of the discussion could
            take place.

            Roland and Cliff argue for the mutual
            relevance of Cultural Community
            Psychology and Vygotskian inspired research in
            the approach referred to
            often in these pages as CHAT, not only because
            it is an acronym for
            cultural-historical activity theory, but
            because we have a tradition of
            chatting here about the ideas in papers that
            sample our different interests.

            In this case, Cliff is intending to send this
            message and an invitation to
            people from Community Psychology to join in.
            May it be celebratory of
            Roland's long life seeking to promote growth
            enhancing communication.

            get your copy at


            Enjoy, and of course, send along to others you
            think might be interested.
            Its legal, free, above board, and, hopefully,


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

        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

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