[xmca] social-societal or the idiot is about to appear

From: bb (xmca-whoever@comcast.net)
Date: Tue Nov 08 2005 - 16:09:17 PST

I had a busy weekend teaching/experimenting and only could lurk effectively. I have been caused to reflect about who has responded to who, and in what manner; who offered positive critique of Anna's article, who was sharp, and how traditionally gender-specific genres (?gendres?) played out. Mike asked me a short time ago if I could map out who responds to whom, and I'm especially tempted for this almost, and perhaps deceptively, cooled discussion. But I have worked closely with Eva Ekeblad, when she did the link-map study of xmca, and that convinces me it can't easily be automated. The URL of that study can be found by googling her name. My latest delving into SFL boxes automation into a coffin and nails it shut. (Please ignore typos, i can't type like before, and find it frustrating).

The problem coincidentally lay within the nature of subjectivity -- by this I mean one slice thorugh the lumpy pudding of subjectivity: making the subject, while making sense, and making meaning. (lumpy pudding=>subjectivity has internal structure that needs be revealed) What is important to map in an xmca conversation relates to Halliday and Hasan's concept of cohesion -- how meanings made in one person's posting relate to those in another person's previous posting, and perhaps likely, in anticipated responses. As Eva had pointed out, people often use a convenient message in their inbox to contribute to a discussion, and that action is not explicitly tied to all the prior texts to which they are responding. Consequently simply looking at the "reply" tag of an email, or who was quoted is highly unreliable. Eva used her knowledge of who xmca'ers were, her knowledge of the topic, and her working memory of the discussion -- mediated by the messages themselves -- to map lin!
 ks between messages. The following realization came to me recently while working on another project: Eva's maps diagrammed linguistic cohesion.

What the upshot of this? Activity theory does not indeed well address subjectivity, and in this deficit it does not well address the role of language. (With exceptions such as Wells and Lemke.) I'd like to see how language can be elaborated in Anna's approach -- and I suspect it plays out with something else that Anna needs to elaborate to bring her approach into more of the mainstream -- methodology. How, given the core dialectic relations of material production, intersubjective exchanges, and human subjectivity, does one proceed to understand the activity unfolding before one's eyes? What questions does one ask? What does one observe? What data does one filter and aquire?

On another note, I have acquired all of The Idiot into one file, and pending the stripping out the remainder of the html, it will be available in plain text. I do this so I can have it on my handheld for those ethereal reading moments, and am willing to share.

(bill barowy)

> Mike, and of course this is also a distinction that comes from German - where
> 'soziale' and 'gesellschaftliche' are differentiated, also in works by Marx and
> other classics.
> Joachim Lompshcer for example was very passionate about not mixing these two,
> from among recent examples (e.g., in one of his last published works).
> There are quite some more misunderstandigs as well - will lurk for now, while
> learning a lot about subjectivity that comes through in these very exchanges,
> very vividly. Through how and what people say, how they react or do not react to
> the particulars in the unfolding discussion, how they take or do not take
> feedback and context into account (the immediate one, here on xmca at least, let
> alone of the wider world) -- through this one can infer a lot about who is who
> while paying attention to patterns and tone and style of communication. This is
> in terms of how one can access other's subjectivity, as Mike asked. There is no
> magic wand of course, but this is one of the ways -- learning through engagement
> and participation (not exactly in the same sense as in Rogoff but with some
> parallel).
> AS
> ________________________________
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Mike Cole
> Sent: Tue 11/8/2005 1:41 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [xmca] social-societal
> Sasha-- Just one note where there is misunderstanding in the conversation.
> The issue of social/societal makes a difference to many.I wish who discussed
> exactly this issue at ISCAR. Social, in Anglo-US discouse, is often a way of
> reducing "THE SOCIAL" to two people having a phone conversation, any sort of
> interaction. The term societal has been invoked as a way of blocking this
> form
> of reductionism.
> Could somone, other than Anna who uses the term subjectivity and knows well
> how to use it in their work please respond to the misgivings about its use
> that
> I tried asking about some days ago? And Joe asked about in a different way
> today?
> I think that it might help us sort out misunderstandings from disagreements.
> mike
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