Re: [xmca] operation, action, activity

Date: Wed Jul 06 2005 - 12:56:26 PDT



That is quite a tidy little package to unpack.   Those individual units of activity also combine to form the gestalt of the work goal.  But I am still confused because in the quote Leontiev refers to actions and operations and then at the very end he is stating that analysis should revolve around the unit of activity.  The units of activity that Leontiev refers to are indeed what need to be studied when analyzing the development of a person's work (insert academic) skills, but do operations and actions combine to form the unit of activity?  And finally, how does the interplay of culture decide that new worker's competence?



Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Sent by:
07/06/2005 08:28 AM MST
Please respond to mcole

To: Mike Cole <>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, and Activity" <>
Subject: [xmca] operation, action, activity

Eric-- I have been remiss in not finding a statement by Leontiev about levels. There may be better ones. I found this
at where two Leontiev texts are available. There are probably better statements, but this is what I had
time to grab. Others might do better. If you think about the example in this passage in terms of your last might
be helpful.


There is frequently no difference between the terms action and operation. In the context of psychological analysis of activity, however, distinguishing between them is absolutely necessary. Actions, as has already been said, are related to goals, operations to conditions. Let us assume that the goal remains the same; conditions in which it is assigned, however, change. Then it is specifically and only the operational content of the action that changes.

In especially visual form, the non coincidence of action and operation appears in actions with tools. Obviously, a tool is a material object in which are crystallized methods and operations, and not actions or goals. For example, a material object may be physically taken apart by means of various tools each of which determines the method of carrying out the given action. Under certain conditions, let us say, an operation of cutting will be more adequate, in others, an operation of sawing; it is assumed here that man knows how to handle the corresponding tools, the knife, the saw, etc. The matter is essentially the same in more complex cases. Let us assume that a man was confronted with the goal of graphically representing some kind of dependences that he had discovered. In order to do this, he must apply one method or another of constructing graphs he must realize specific operation, and for this he must know how to do them. In this case it makes no difference how or under what circumstances or using which material he learned how to do these operations; something else is important specifically, that the formulation of the operation proceeds entirely differently from the formulation of the goal, that is, the initiation of action.

Actions and operations have various origins, various dynamics, and various fates. Their genesis lies in the relationships of exchange of activities; every operation, however, is the result of a transformation of action th _______________________________________________
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