Re: [xmca] units of analysis (Chuck)

From: Chuk Moran (
Date: Mon Mar 12 2007 - 17:38:44 PST

hey andy,

to clarify, all of the theorists i was comparing are using mediation (of
some kind) as their unit of analysis, so i tried to describe the differences
in terms of a "unit of analysis of mediation" (which is the same as a "unit
of mediation"). so word meaning is an example of a unit of mediation.
activity is another unit of mediation. mediation in acts, mediation in
action, mediation in acitivity...

a different unit of analysis would the individual in a context, or cognitive
processes, or representational states across media.

about arbitrariness of words:
mike and david were going back and forth about the role of etymology in
forming meaning, but david also pointed out that the material reality of a
word (eg how it sounds, how long it is, what it takes to pronounce it, which
syllable is stressed) has effects as well. so there are different ways to
explain words as un-arbitrary. or, there are different things that arbit
how words mean.

i think saussurean linguistics and lacanian psychoanalysis are both models
where word meaning is arbitrary. any words meaning is only esctablish in
reference to other meanings... your refusal, "how could we communicate
otherwise" assumes a model of communication where communicating is about
clarity, understanding, and transfer of information, while i assume other
models are thinkable. (eg words dont mean, they function)
"how could someone believe in such a thing?"
ultimately, it depends on how, you would argue, a person believes, and i
think beliefs have an easy time making the people who are their believers,
as well as negotiating with force what the terms of belief would mean.

thanks for giving marisa & i some gentle adversarial help thinking,

On 3/7/07, Andy Blunden <> wrote:
> Chuck, a couple of pointed questions for you.
> What do you mean by "unit of analysis of mediation" and "unit of
> mediation"? It seems to me that you are blurring the idea of "unit of
> analysis".
> Of course "The meaning of a word is not arbitrary, but is culturally,
> socially, and historically specific." How could we communicate otherwise?
> The idea of "arbitrary" words in that sense is unthinkable. Do you see any
> way in which the idea "arbitrary" meaning could be justified? I mean how
> could someone believe in such a thing?
> Do you think that Vygotsky did not "see mediation as a part of actions,
> and
> as a component in activity"?
> That's a start for you, Chuck! :)
> Andy
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