Re: [xmca] CHAT and action-research

From: Kevin Rocap (
Date: Fri Jan 12 2007 - 07:26:19 PST

Dear Elaine,

Hi! You pose some interesting things to consider. I can suggest what I
think are a few clarifications (perhaps distinctions, perhaps not ;-)).

(1) Action research involves the practitioner in researching
his/her/their own practices whether for ongoing improvement or for other
social action/change. The CHAT framework has certainly been applied by
folks studying other people's actions, not necessarily their own.

(2) While CHAT provides some theories of action, object, tool use,
interrelations, I'm not sure I'd characterize it as inherently
"activist" which I think is more in the hands of whomever is making use
of the CHAT framework.

(3) A CHAT framework could certainly be used by practitioner-researchers
within their own action research activity and might help them understand
and/or comment upon diverse tools, objects/intents/purposes, contexts,
etc. of their own researched practice, imho.

(4) Action Science referenced by Engestrom is very specfiic and does not
layout the same range of variables for consideration (i.e., the various
points on the triangle in the case of CHAT). The primary focus from my
prior experience studying action science with Chris Argyris is that the
focus is on talk among actors in an organization and how that frames,
organizes, coordinates and provides a window into their commitments,
attitudes, and behaviors (whether Model I or Model II in the Argyris
typology). True their talk may have to, at key points, be
compared/contrasted with their non-verbal behaviors (yet without real
frameworks regarding ways to assess those behaviors per se), but verbal
behaviors were always the primary focus in my short experience (maybe
the presumption is that much of corporate behavior hinges on talk ;-)).

My two cents.

In Peace,

Elaine Mateus wrote:
> Dear All,
> There has been a recurrent issue among some of my brazilian peers regarding differences and/or similarities between action-research and the CHAT methodological framing. I'm also uncertain about this matter as I read Kemmis, for example, saying that:
> In my view, critical or emancipatory action research is always connected to social action: it always understands itself as a concrete and practical expression of the aspiration to change the social (or educational) world for the better through improving shared social practices, our shared understandings of these social practices, and the shared situations in which these practices are carried out. It is thus always critical, in the sense that it is about relentlessly trying to understand and improve the way things are in relation to how they could be better. But it is also critical in the sense that it is activist: it aims at creating a form of collaborative learning by doing (in which groups of participants set out to learn from change in a process of making changes, studying the process and consequences of these changes, and trying again). It aims to help people understand themselves as the agents, as well as the products, of history. In my view, action research is also committed to spreading involvement and participation in the research process. (Kemmis, 1993
> On the other hand, Engestrom and his colleagues in "The discursive construction of collaborative care" (2003 :433), say that:
> For example, one might ask what is the difference between our work and the 'action science' practiced by Chris Argyris and his colleagues (Argyris & al., 1985). Action science is aimed at making practitioners aware of the persistent and often harmful 'single-loop' mechanisms in their talk and interaction. However, in action science literature, we don't learn much about how the practitioners actually change their practices, or what new tools and organizational structures they develop and adopt.
> Can someone suggest further readings so that we can have a better understanding on this issue?
> Thanks
> Elaine Mateus
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