Re: [xmca] operation, action, activity

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Thu Jul 07 2005 - 16:26:01 PDT

 Hi Eric,

If Steve is able to post the snippet on operations, it might be worthwhile re-thinking your pie-baking vignette vis-a-vis actions and operations ;-)


On Thursday, July 07, 2005, at 10:00PM, <> wrote:

><<Original Attached>>_______________________________________________
>xmca mailing list

 Thank you much Steve upon the urging of Mike to provide more kernels for mulling over.  I am sensing in the provided nuggets from Leontiev that there is a series of circles being studied. Actions would be the inside (when performing a task such as peeling apples for a pie one may perform this with a knife others may choose a special 'peeler').  Operations would be of a greater level of importance and so of an outer more ring (when baking a pie it is important to put the crust in before the filling).  Then outside of that would be the overall unit of activity (baking a pie). This specific unit of activity could beww analysed in the home setting, at a restaurant, or say at school in a home ec class.  Depending on the location there may be more cirlces/levels for analysis.


whadaya think?

Steven Thorne <sthorne who-is-at>
Sent by:
07/07/2005 12:25 AM AST
Please respond to xmca

To: <>
Subject: Re: [xmca] operation, action, activity

hi all -- in response to Mike's request, here are statements from AN Leont'ev describing levels of activity.

Leont'ev summarizes the hierarchy of activity this way:

"in the general flow of activity that makes up higher, psychologically mediated aspects of human life, our analysis distinguishes, first, separate (particular) activities, using their energizing motives as the criterion. Second, we distinguish actions-the processes subordinated to conscious goals. Finally, we distinguish the operations, which depend directly on the conditions under which a concrete goal is attained."
(A. N. Leont'ev 1981: 64-5).

a few more quotations below -- levels in ALL CAPS.

'Activity' is the broadest level process within the hierarchy and is always connected to a motive, though in some cases, the motive may not be consciously realized by the actor or actor-collective.

"we always deal with specific activities and each answers to a specific need of the active agent. It moves toward the object of this need, and it terminates when it is satisfied. Various concrete activities can be classified according to whatever features are convenient, such as form, means of execution, emotional level, temporal and spatial characteristics, physiological mechanisms, etc. However, the main feature that distinguishes one activity from another is its object. After all, it is precisely an activity's object that gives it a specific direction. In accordance with the terminology I have proposed, an activity's object is its real motive. Of course, the motive can be either material or ideal. The main point is that some need always stands behind it."
(A. N. Leont'ev 1981: 59)


"The basic 'components' of various human activities are the actions that translate them into reality. We call a process an action when it is subordinated to the idea of achieving a result, i.e. a process that is subordinated to a conscious goal'.
(A.N. Leont'ev 1981: 59-60)

... when a concrete process-internal or external-unfolds before us, from the point of view of its motive, it is a human activity, but in terms of subordination to a goal, it is an action or a chain of actions. At the same time, an activity and an action are genuinely different realities One and the same action can be instrumental in

xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Aug 01 2005 - 01:01:00 PDT