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[Xmca-l] Re: Unit of Analysis

The water metaphor is Vygotsky's from Thinking and Speech. (I hope it is properly attributed to him in the text you cited, though this is not clear from the quote of that text). And yes, it is a very useful idea to think of a unit of analysis through this lens. Thanks for the reminder.

Sent from my iPhone

> On Sep 6, 2017, at 6:15 PM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> wrote:
> Not sure if others might feel this is an oversimplification of unit of
> analysis, but I just came across this in Wortham and Kim's Introduction to
> the volume Discourse and Education and found it useful. The short of it is
> that the unit of analysis is the unit that "preserves the
> essential features of the whole".
> Here is their longer explanation:
> "Marx (1867/1986) and Vygotsky (1934/1987) apply the concept "unit of
> analysis" to social scientific problems. In their account, an adequate
> approach to any phenomenon must find the right unit of analysis - one that
> preserves the essential features of the whole. In order to study water, a
> scientist must not break the substance down below the level of an
> individual H20 molecule. Water is made up of nothing but hydrogen and
> oxygen, but studying hydrogen and oxygen separately will not illuminate the
> essential properties of water. Similarly, meaningful language use requires
> a unit of analysis that includes aspects beyond phonology,
> grammar, semantics, and mental representations. All of these linguistic and
> psychological factors play a role in linguistic communication, but natural
> language use also involves social action in a context that includes other
> actors and socially significant regularities."
> (entire chapter can be found on Research Gate at:
> https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319322253_Introduction_to_Discourse_and_Education
> )
> ​I thought that the water/H20 metaphor was a useful one for thinking about
> unit of analysis.​
> ​-greg​
> -- 
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> WEBSITE: greg.a.thompson.byu.edu
> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson