Re: Motives and goals

From: Jayson Seaman (
Date: Mon Feb 02 2004 - 18:00:44 PST

I agree that it is problematic to assume correspondence among differing
frameworks. From what I have read, motivation theorists have yet to
consider motivation from a sociocultural perspective much at all, let
alone from Leontiev's specific concepts on the matter (with which, I must
say, I am unfamiliar). There have been a couple articles, such as Hickey,
D. (1997). Motivation and contemporary socio-constructivist instructional
perspectives. Educational Psychologist, 32(3), 175-193, but extensive
work on motivation viewed from an activity theoretical perspective seems
to be in its nascent stages--at least in the motivation literature, which
is more in a social cognitive framework.

The example of minority "underperformance" illustrates, in my thinking,
the limits of current goal orientation concepts and there may be some
benefit from viewing the example from a situational perspective rather
than from an individual perspective. I agree that one must be careful in
doing this, so as not to cause confusion--although no doubt I have become
confused along the way! This is especially hard because it is tempting to
speak generally of motivation and goal orientation regardless of the
theoretical framework, when perhaps it is not clear that the concepts are
salient in each framework.

I agree with Eugene that investigation into the relationship between
institutional structure and individual activity with regards to motives
would be helpful--I have not seen anything of this sort in the motivation
literature. In another source, Peter Hall has written about power and
educational organizations, noting that meta-power "refers to the shaping
of social relationships, social structures, and situations by altering
the matrix of possibilities and orientations within which social action
occurs...altering the type of game actors play; it refers to changing the
distribution of resources or the conditions governing interaction" (1997,
p. 405). It is in this way I draw upon the idea of legitimacy to come to
see how motivation may be situated. The institution largely determines
the parameters for interaction, thus legitimate participation, and one
could be said to possess a goal orientation so long as there is general
correspondence between the parameters set by the institution and the
actors involved. I appreciate Eugene's use of the notion of "positive
valence" here. Then again, perhaps the notion of goal orientation does
not hold up at all in this circumstance.

Any suggestions?

Jayson Seaman

Hall, P. M. (1997). Meta-power, social organization, and the shaping of
social action. Symbolic Interaction, 20(4), 397-418.
On Mon, 2 Feb 2004 12:57:20 -0800 (PST) (Mike Cole)
> Jayson and Eugene and ...... In so far as I am aware, the
> discussion of
> the concept of motivation in the US takes place in complete
> isolation
> from Leontiev's attempt to provide a three level hierarchy in which
> motive
> is used in relation to the concept of object which has no easy or
> unique interpretation in English. I fear that mixing discussions of
> "motivation" form different theoretical frameworks in a piecemeal
> fashion
> is likely to lead to massive confusion.
> Do you see this as an issue?
> mike

With regards,

Jayson Seaman
Orford, NH

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