new article for discussion

From: Peggy Bengel (
Date: Tue May 18 2004 - 11:17:41 PDT

Greetings everyone.

Below are abstracts for the articles appearing in MCA 10 (3).
Please read them and make your selection as to which you would like
posted as the next article for discussion on xmca. The voting poll
should be open later today or tomorrow.


A Potential for an Integrated View of Development and Learning:
Gal’perin’s Contribution to Sociocultural Psychology 

Igor M. Arievitch
The City University of New York


Piotr Gal’perin was a contemporary of Vygotsky, Luria, and Leont’ev and
shared with them many basic assumptions of cultural-historical
psychology. However, unlike his colleagues, Gal’perin’s work received
much less attention in Western psychology and is often inadequately
perceived as an elaboration of concrete instructional techniques,
although in fact it encompasses original contributions to fundamental
problems of psychology. Gal’perin’s ideas about learning and
development resonate with some recent trends in cognitive psychology,
in particular, with a significant shift in cognitive psychology from
machinelike models to the study of contextualized cognitive strategies.
Unlike other theories though, Gal’perin’s approach contains a unique
core component—a conceptualization of psychological aspects of human
activity, distinct from its physiological, logical, or sociological
aspects, as well as an elaborate concept of internalization. This
unifying conceptual basis, combined with recent findings in
sociocultural research and cognitive science, creates a promise for a
much-desired progress towards an integrated psychological view of
mental development.

Shoptalk: Teaching and Learning in an African American Hair Salon1

Yolanda J. Majors
The University of Georgia


This study examines ways of speaking, performing and reasoning within
an urban, African American hair salon. I argue here that participants
within the salon, through participation, collaboration and negotiation,
construct and transmit their understandings of the world within systems
of activity. By identifying how members of the community hair salon use
cultural resources and institutional technologies, co-construct
knowledge, and change and develop through their participation in
activity, my aim is to draw a better understanding of how learning
takes place outside of the classroom. By identifying the labor related
activities within the hair salon, the participation structures which
support these activities, and the socially shared, cultural funds of
knowledge, I hope to make visible certain mediating structures that
support culturally relevant learning and teaching in the African
American community.

Learning of Disabled Children in Japan: Simultaneous Participation in
Different Activity Systems

Noboru Takahashi
Osaka University of Education


The learning activity systems of disabled children attending local
public school in Japan were analyzed within the framework of activity
theory. The children participated in several different activity systems
at the same time, all of which have certain structural features in
common. These include the Subject child, the presence of adults who
guide the child’s learning, the goals of those adults, and the
ontogenetic history that constrains the goals. In this study, two
systems—the family and the special education classroom—and their
relationship were analyzed. The data were derived from the author’s
experience as an advisor of parents and teachers of disabled children
in special education classes in Japanese local public elementary and
junior high schools. When the same Subject child mediated both systems,
two kinds of contradictions became visible, both of which were the
possible moments of the development of each system: intra-systemic and
inter-systemic contradictions. The latter occurs because the adults in
each system envision the future of the same Subject child based on the
different ontogenetic history of the system, and the former occurs
because the possible future of the child has to be envisioned based on
the existing past. The possibility of the resolution of the
contradictions and the development of the systems with a shared
ontogenetic history is discussed.

Objective Subjectification: The Anti-Method of Social Work 

Morten Nissen, Ph.D.
University of Copenhagen


The paper sets out to understand an important paradox in the author’s
action research cooperation with a social work development project
called “Wild Learning”: the fact that the methods which are developed
in the project mostly consist in anti-method. A sketch of the
theoretical concepts in the dialectical tradition of method,
objectification, subjectification, and participation is presented to
explain the idea that social work itself represents a paradoxical form
of knowledge which can be only inadequately and temporarily objectified
as method by way of what is introduced as a “boundary objectivity.”
Current “postmodern” forms of this paradox are briefly considered. As a
conclusion, an overall understanding of social work as “critique” is
suggested, in which both “method” and “anti-method” are necessary
moments in a continuous transformation.


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