[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: identity expressed or formed by action?



Mary Douglas was part of the same sociological working group as Basil
Bernstein, Michael Halliday, and Ruqaiya Hasan in London in the late
sixties. One important result of this working group was the recognition
that relationships like the the action of throwing away to "waste", or the
action of buying a Prius to being a Prius-owner or the action of organizing
in a revolutionary party to being a socialist--and also, I should say, the
action of forming a concept to using a word meaning--are not causally
related at all, at least not in the sense that we canonically use the word
"cause" (which is a rather metaphorical sense, derived from Newtonian
mechanics, and billiard balls colliding).

Instead, when something abstract is concretized, Halliday and Hasan say it
is "realized". This doesn't mean that it was unreal before, nor that the
ideal is made real, but it does mean that a potential is made actual.
Realization is a two way relationship, because the movement from
lexicogrammar (abstract) to phonology (more concrete) is realization, but
the movement from lexicogrammar (abstract) to context (more concrete) is
also realization. Realization takes place whenever meaning potential
becomes actual meaning, where meaning is understood as a process of
relating one real thing to another.

I think that this, and not a search for causes, unravels Andy's knot. Andy
has said he doesn't want to read anything on this subject, and besides the
reading material on realization is highly technical and mainly interesting
to systemic functional linguists. But in the process of saying or writing
anything, e.g. a post on xmca or a remark on a painting to a partner, we
can easily see that the thought doesn't "cause" the utterance in any
important sense (it does not, for example, fully determine its grammar or
its pronunciation or its orthography, all of which are subject to errors
which leave meaning invariant). What it does is to "realize" or "actualize"
a meaning potential which is to some degree constructed by context, to some
degree given by the lexicogrammatical system, and to some degree construed
by the joint communicative project of speakers and hearers.

The same thing seems to apply to waste, driving a Prius, being a socialist,
and painting a mango--or eating one, for that matter, since you could have
had an apple instead.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 12:18 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth <
wolffmichael.roth@gmail.com> wrote:

> Andy, I don't think that there is a drive to identity. I think this view is
> typical of a constructivist mentalist approach. In my view, Marx was closer
> to the point, and therefore Vygotsky and Leont'ev who use the category of
> personality rather than identity. Marx/Engels say something pertinent in
> the German Ideology:
>
> |p. 5| This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the
> reproduction of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a
> definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of
> expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. *As*
> individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore,
> coincides with their production, both with what they produce and
> ― 32 ―
> *with how they produce*. *Hence what individuals are depends on the
> material conditions of their production*.
> (This is from vol. 5 of the International Publishers edition)
>
> Michael
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> --------------------
> Wolff-Michael Roth, Lansdowne Professor
> Applied Cognitive Science
> MacLaurin Building A567
> University of Victoria
> Victoria, BC, V8P 5C2
> http://web.uvic.ca/~mroth <http://education2.uvic.ca/faculty/mroth/>
>
> New book: *The Mathematics of Mathematics
> <https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/new-
> directions-in-mathematics-and-science-education/the-
> mathematics-of-mathematics/>*
>
> On Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 6:52 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>
> > Thank you for the reference, Michael, but can't you tell me in a sentence
> > or two whether there is any such thing as a drive to express one's
> > self-identity in activity which is prior to the activity in which
> identity
> > is formed?
> >
> > Andy
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > Andy Blunden
> > http://home.mira.net/~andy
> > http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
> > On 16/02/2017 1:46 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
> >
> >> Andy,
> >> I have worked out some of the issues in an article available online
> >> Roth, W.-M. (2009). Identity and community: Differences at heart and
> >> futures-to-come. Éducation et Didactique, 3, 99-118. (
> >> http://educationdidactique.revues.org/582)
> >>
> >> where "I present a way to realize the Hegel–Marx–Vygotsky–Leont’ev
> program
> >> of understanding the subject of activity and, correlatively, of
> >> understanding the (the culture of the) community with which individuals
> >> stand in an irreducible, because mutually constitutive relationship"
> >>
> >> Michael
> >>
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> --------------------
> >> Wolff-Michael Roth, Lansdowne Professor
> >> Applied Cognitive Science
> >> MacLaurin Building A567
> >> University of Victoria
> >> Victoria, BC, V8P 5C2
> >> http://web.uvic.ca/~mroth <http://education2.uvic.ca/faculty/mroth/>
> >>
> >> New book: *The Mathematics of Mathematics
> >> <https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/new-dir
> >> ections-in-mathematics-and-science-education/the-mathematics
> >> -of-mathematics/>*
> >>
> >> On Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 6:17 AM, <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> Rob,
> >>> So, in the way ‘she becomes a pollutant as waste’ can a person become
> ‘an
> >>> expressive identity’ as a formation of a particular cultural imaginary?
> >>>
> >>> Not a ‘pollutant’ or ‘an expressive identity’ to start with, but
> becoming
> >>> a pollutant or an expressive identity.
> >>>
> >>> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> >>>
> >>> From: R.J.S.Parsons
> >>> Sent: February 15, 2017 3:26 AM
> >>> To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: identity expressed or formed by action?
> >>>
> >>> The idea of waste leads me to Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger. (One of
> >>> the books that made me grow up.) She discusses what dirt is - matter
> out
> >>> of place. Then she discusses all sorts of implications. She doesnt'
> >>> discuss the issue of expression vs formation as such, but much of what
> >>> she does discuss bears on it. Menstruation comes to mind. In some
> >>> societies, women having their periods are perceived as dirty, and they
> >>> are seen as untouchable by men. So the way a woman is treated forms in
> >>> her the idea that she is a pollutant, or a carrier. She was not one to
> >>> start with.
> >>>
> >>> Rob
> >>>
> >>> On 15/02/2017 10:21, Laure Kloetzer wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> Dear Andy,
> >>>>
> >>>> Interestingly, I had a very similar discussion with some colleagues
> >>>> recently not on identity but on... waste. The perspective of one of
> our
> >>>> students was that investigating what waste is can be done via
> >>>> interviews,
> >>>> in order to understand how we decide what to through away. I was
> arguing
> >>>> that waste is not fully defined before action, but that waste is what
> we
> >>>> through away. The action of throwing away is formative of what count
> as
> >>>> "waste".
> >>>> I thought it might help to step back for one second from the tricky
> >>>> question of self-identity and considering more concrete, everyday
> >>>> activities before coming back to it...
> >>>> Best
> >>>> LK
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> 2017-02-15 8:30 GMT+01:00 Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>:
> >>>>
> >>>> I would be interested in any helpful comments (other than suggestions
> >>>>>
> >>>> for
> >>>
> >>>> more books to read) from my xmca psychologist friends on this problem.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> In discussion with a friend, who is very au fait with contemporary
> >>>>>
> >>>> social
> >>>
> >>>> philosophy, but knows nothing of CHAT, suggested to me a number of
> ideas
> >>>>> intended to be explanatory (rather than descriptive) of current
> social
> >>>>>
> >>>> and
> >>>
> >>>> political trends. He talks about the rise of "expressive authenticity"
> >>>>> since the 1970s and "collective action as a means to express
> selfhood."
> >>>>>
> >>>> In
> >>>
> >>>> response, I questioned whether there is any such thing as a drive to
> >>>>> *express* one's identity, and that rather, collective action (and
> there
> >>>>>
> >>>> is
> >>>
> >>>> fundamentally no other kind of action) in pursuit of needs of all
> kinds
> >>>>> (spiritual, social and material) is *formative* of identity.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> A classic case for analysis is the well-known observation that
> nowadays
> >>>>> people purchase (clothes, cars, food, ...) as a means of expressing
> >>>>>
> >>>> their
> >>>
> >>>> identity. I question this, because it presumes that there is the
> innate
> >>>>> drive to express one's identity, which I see no evidence for. I think
> >>>>> people adopt dress styles in much the same way that people carry
> flags
> >>>>>
> >>>> - to
> >>>
> >>>> promote a movement they think positive and to gain social acceptance
> in
> >>>>>
> >>>> it.
> >>>
> >>>> Identity-formation is a *result* not a cause of this.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> So, am I wrong? Is identity formation a result or a cause of
> activity?
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Andy
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>> --
> >>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>>>> Andy Blunden
> >>>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy
> >>>>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-
> decision-making
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>
> >
>