Re: [xmca] Papers for discussion: HIV, interventions and activitytheory

From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch who-is-at>
Date: Tue Nov 11 2008 - 11:09:29 PST

Mary, this is a fascinating and valuable report and assessment of the
current situation in SA regarding women and AIDS. In thinking about
the contrast between, on one hand, the role of the women's, gay, and
other alternative sexual movements in the US in relation to AIDS, and
on the other hand, your vivid report of a very different situation in
SA, I am curious about contrasts between white, black and coloured
South Africans in regard to the AIDS crisis and sexual practices. My
guess is that the higher levels of employment in skilled and career
jobs, professions and small businesses by whites creates a very
different situation from the one you are describing among the black
ethnicities in SA, many of whom experience extreme poverty and
economic pressures, as you describe.

The socio-economic pressures for concurrency (simultaneous multiple
sexual relationships) in SA that you explain are especially striking
to me. In contrast, concurrency (and the expansion of non-traditional
sexuality in general) in places like the US and Europe, among both
gays and straights, occurs for very different reasons. Reasons that
occur to me at the moment for this emergence include: a new-found
relative freedom from the risk of pregnancy through birth control; a
general relaxation of social coercion against non-traditional sexual
behavior, including women, (although women's sexuality outside
marriage is still more discouraged than men's); new resources for
mobility and privacy for individuals, especially for youth, and
including for women (although men continue to have much more access to
such resources); more opportunities to socialize outside the
traditional family framework, also including, with the same
qualifications, women; new opportunities for gays and others
interested in alternative sexual practices to socialize; a relative
proliferation of accessible commercial social venues to meet and date
sexually active people in, especially in urban areas, although they
are by no means ideal and are largely unavailable to teenagers; a
radical increase in public knowledge about how to have sex
recreationally and pleasurably, something never before generally
available, especially to women; much more knowledge about relationship
issues and consciousness about making sexual and intimate
relationships more egalitarian and meaningful for both partners (these
latter two are ones I would especially attribute a significant role to
the womens, and also the gay movements); and until the AIDS crisis,
the relative ability to rely on the health care system and
antibiotics, personal hygiene, partnership, and protective barriers to
try to minimize catastrophic consequences of sexually transmitted

But the same reasons that concurrency and other non-conservative (in a
manner of speaking) sexual practices can quickly spread AIDS (and
other STD's) in SA apply to the US, so it has become an especially
sharp issue among sexually active people who are not exclusive with
the same partner over decades, especially since the mid to late
1980's. You would think that condoms would be used at near 100%
levels by such people in the US, but they aren't - "barebacking" is
considered an acceptable practice in many circles, especially among
those who feel immune from AIDS because they assume they are
sufficiently segregated from it. Many straights at first had the
opinion AIDS was a "gay" disease. This myth is still prevalent. Gays
themselves continue to engage in high risk sexual practices in
proportions much higher than hoped, and there have been reports it has
been increasing again. AIDS education still has many, many miles to
go in the US. AIDS is still a major killer, and a tremendous drain on
many people's health, and the health care system. Until a vaccine is
developed (there is some recent research spurring new hope for this),
the only form of prevention is to change how people do sex. This isn't
at all easy, but it is the only way.

But nowhere in the world is AIDS as serious a crisis as it is in SA.
Some of the things that have been learned in the US can help, and some
things seem to need to be learned that have not yet been discovered.

Judging from your report, another social movement, which currently
exists, that could be brought much more on board is the ANC itself.
This historic movement led the struggle to overthrow apartheid, but in
a way, its work has only begun. Getting the big political movements
and governments of SA and in every country on board is clearly

Thank you so much for these rich, informative reports and discussions
of the AIDS crisis in SA and efforts to find solutions, Mary. I have
been learning a great deal. As for the possibility and potential for a
women's movement in SA, I do hold high hopes. Women in SA and Africa
in my mind can develop the power to change a great deal of things,
including reversing many of worse effects of the global AIDS crisis,
but such power will take time and changing conditions to harness,
especially in a place like SA, where economic capital in many regions
is weak and the labor force is consequently highly underdeveloped and
in extreme conditions of poverty. In contrast, the deep entry of
women into the workforces of the US and Europe, and the growth of post-
WWII technologies for semi-mechanizing domestic work, speeding up
shopping and meal preparation, and so forth, have combined, mostly in
the advanced capitalist countries, to create underlying conditions and
social opportunities for women to demand their full rights in ways
never before seen in history.

The women of Africa and throughout the world, in my opinion, will join
forces on these fundamental issues, issues that are fundamental for
all working people - but not overnight, and not all at once, and not
in the same way or for the same reasons, and will do so in unique ways
from region to region, culture to culture, and individual to
individual. Sisterhood truly is powerful, and I think the world has
so far only gotten a taste of it. When the women of Africa rise, the
world will rock.

In the meantime, working, as you point out, at the local level, with
the social resources immediately at hand, is certainly a necessary
stage and forging ground for larger-scale solutions down the road. If
ideas from CHAT, the Change Laboratory, other trends in the Vygotsky
school, or even just your own insights and efforts help make a
difference, that alone will make me and many of us very proud, and
more hopeful this frightening epidemic can be beat. I wish you the
very best of luck, Mary, and hope you continue to include us, if I may
speak for other xmcaers. And I am also encouraged and educated by
your comments, Andy. It would be nice if others on xmca would chime
in on Mary's work and careful thinking as well. Thoughts and
encouragements in that direction from this crowd can only help.

- Steve

On Nov 11, 2008, at 3:56 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:

> Mary, I appreciate all your comments. If there is any hope of
> progress in this area, I suspect you will be part of it! Can I just
> mention some things I have been reading?
> Epstein, Steve. Impure Science. AIDS Activism, and the Politics of
> Knowledge. 1996 - about the PWA (People With AIDS) movement in the
> US in the 1980s. VERY different from your situation in RSA in the
> 2000s, but worth a read.
> Holland D, Skinner D, Lachicotte W, Cain C, Identity and Agency in
> Cultural World - has an intereting chapter on the cultural world of
> romance and attractiveness.
> Borkman, Thomasina Jo, Understanding Self-Help/Mutual Aid. Traces
> the history of the emergence of Self-Help groups in the 1970s and
> their development into self-organising social movements. If only ...
> Sen, Amartya and Dreze, J. India, Development and Participation -
> Sen argues that the critical voice of the women in a society is the
> only measure which can counteract poverty.
> I think like in Uganda, if we can find out what works at a local
> level, the an intelligent government can intervene by lending aid to
> those who are prepared to fight, rather than intervening from on
> high, so to speak. Government can provide education, publicity,
> money, .... What the government says always affects how the people
> think. If the government does no more than praise People Fighting
> AIDS, then that will be a help.
> On a side note, governments which help women by providing generous
> resources for them to stay home as sole carer for a child, may
> reinforce exploitation of women. In other countries, resources are
> provided to women who want to continue in the workforce and need to
> pay for child care or get their husband to give up work.
> Andy
> Mary van der Riet wrote:
>> Hi Steve, Andy
>> In an earlier email, Andy suggested that, “following CS Peirce, you
>> have
>> to coordinate the attack on three registers: the symbolic (AIDS is
>> caused by a sexually transmitted virus), the indexical (a social
>> movement of people motivated to stop the unsafe sex) and the iconic
>> (making unsafe sex look like what it is, not sexy but unsafe).”
>> 1. yes knowledge is key (but not the sole key) – people need to know
>> what causes HIV and how it is transmitted, prevented etc
>> 2. indexical: yes, social movements play a role – key issue is how do
>> they emerge (can they be initiated?), and how are they sustained?
>> My sense is that those already infected are often part of movements
>> (partly as a means of support – they join support groups, they join
>> the
>> Treatment Action Campaign to argue for better treatment options
>> etc) –
>> but those who are a high risk or do not know their status, are not
>> part
>> of any social movement until they need it
>> 3. Yes, the iconic. Ultimately, those engaging in sex have to do so
>> differently, they have to do so with ‘safety’ in mind. As Andy said
>> in
>> one of his emails, they have to associate the act with a problem, and
>> act accordingly. [Andy’s points: successful campaigns which “aim to
>> make
>> certain dangerous behaviours just look stupid. Bascially, you need to
>> change the image of a sexually attractive man or woman. It is often
>> the
>> case that rational understanding of the lethal consquences has little
>> effect if people *feel* powerful and good when doing the unsafe
>> practice]. So, the key issue is how does one get the ‘individual’
>> to not
>> feel powerful and good in doing unsafe sex? I would love to see some
>> examples of campaigns which portray “unsafe sex being stupid”. I’m
>> going
>> to get my students working on that one!
>> I would add a two other ‘registers’ or suggest adjustments to these
>> registers in addressing the HIV/AIDS problem in SA (and possibly
>> elsewhere)
>> 4. localized or ‘contextualised’ approaches seem to work best (rather
>> that one strategy fitting all). Different contexts have different
>> dynamics and respond to interventions in different ways. (this is not
>> antithetical to a CHAT perspective – things are inherently related to
>> their context). Start small..
>> 5. There is a need for processes/change to occur on many ‘levels –
>> as in
>> the case of Uganda discussed below – horizontal and vertical
>> processes
>> are needed.
>> This next bit is a bit rambling.
>> I agree that ‘social movements’ play a role. I think it’s a bit
>> unclear
>> how this would happen (except with a sort of generalised effect – eg
>> apartheid became very unpopular not because everyone took a stand
>> against it – the US as a powerful government didn’t, and neither
>> did the
>> UK - but because enough people over a long enough time - and yes some
>> with deliberate strategies about how to change the response to
>> apartheid
>> – objected to it. It then became not ‘normal’, no ‘accepted’, and
>> in the
>> ATheory terms – the contradictions became so immense that the
>> system was
>> in crisis.
>> How to do this with the ‘activity’ of sex? I agree that if women/
>> young
>> girls did something differently in their interaction with male
>> partners,
>> this would shift the dynamics and change the act. I have a few
>> questions about how and whether this has happened as a
>> response to the feminist movement? Could we argue that women in
>> contexts
>> where male and female are considered equal, and/or where a battle has
>> been fought over many years to entrench that equality, have greater
>> say
>> and control within the activity of sex? One of my questions is
>> whether
>> this happens all of/most of the time in those contexts, and another
>> question is whether it was ‘feminism’ that afforded this? Steve,
>> when you raised the issue I thought of Denmark. I don’t know its
>> social history, but I think one key issue which supports the
>> position of
>> women in society in Denmark is that the state provides so many
>> services
>> for women (day care etc). This allows for a different wI think what
>> I have been heading towards is the idea that its yes, it
>> might be a social movement (how does one start a struggle then
>> becomes a
>> key thing), but I think it also has a lot to do with the conditions
>> in
>> which one lives. The number of people who smoke in SA has dropped
>> since
>> the state legislation about where smoking was allowed ie people
>> changed
>> ‘individual’ behaviour because it is no longer as ‘possible’ to
>> enact. The ‘norms and conditions’ about the practice changed.
>> Would it be possible for young women in sexual interactions to create
>> different norms? I don’t think so, not on their own. If the society
>> generally supported a different way of acting, and this was the
>> ‘norm’,
>> then yes, they could, in the activity with a male partner, have
>> greater
>> strength and the possibility to do something different. But in the
>> situation they are in at the moment, I don’t think so. An
>> interesting study conducted by colleagues of mine in a research
>> organisation called CADRE found that a dominant practice amongst
>> South
>> African youth is that of ‘concurrency’ – not just many partners, but
>> many partners concurrently (see Parker et al, 2007). This served as a
>> form of ‘security’ both on an emotional level, and also financial
>> security. I don’t know if this is a consequence of the long term
>> impact
>> of apartheid (fragmented and disrupted families, many absent fathers,
>> precarious economic situation). Some of these dynamics exist in other
>> places in the world. But the important thing is that this security
>> was
>> more important than ‘safe sex’. It was also the view of the female
>> youth
>> in the video in my presentation at ISCAR, whose mother was HIV
>> positive
>> and ill, and whose father had recently died of AIDS. The argument
>> goes
>> something like this: “no we don’t used condoms because if we do the
>> boys
>> will leave us”. Now, maybe if you are in a dire situation at home,
>> with
>> parents and other adults who should be caring for you, ill, dying, or
>> absent, then one needs security at all costs. So, how does one deal
>> with
>> this? In a country with such fragmentation, family life is not
>> secure.
>> And HIV threatens this even more.
>> The other issue is that there are extremely high levels of gender
>> violence in the SA context (see Jewkes; Wood & Jewkes; Wood et al).
>> Some
>> extreme examples: recently a woman was verbally and physically
>> abused at
>> a taxi rank in KZN because she was wearing a mini skirt – her skirt
>> was
>> torn off her and she was paraded in the street. Multiple partners for
>> men are considered very normal – as a women in this kind of
>> relationship
>> your power is not very great. This means that they don’t necessarily
>> have, Steve, what you refer to as the “ultimate power and
>> motivation to
>> significantly change how sexuality is done in SA”. They might have
>> the
>> motivation, but the conditions don’t really enable them to have much
>> power. Patriarchy is very strong in SA. Polygamy is common. In some
>> rural contexts women don’t traditionally have the right to own
>> property
>> and are kicked out of their houses by other family members if their
>> husbands die. There are the trends of older men finding younger
>> women as
>> sexual partners because they believe they are less of a risk, or that
>> they as virgins will ‘cure’ HIV; there are the instances of young
>> women
>> taking older men as partners to obtain money for cell phones, or
>> clothes.
>> Steve asks “What incipient forms have feminism, womens rights
>> movements,
>> etc. already taken? What could be done to help?”. I am not sure
>> There
>> is a sense that women do have power in that in most cases they run
>> households (covertly managing budgets/funds); there tend to be higher
>> levels of employment for women than for men (SA unemployment figure
>> is
>> about 27%, and in some rural areas such as that in the research as
>> much
>> as 60%); and there are many church structures which are run by women
>> (Women’s Manyano’s). But there are also what I would refer to as
>> counter-feminist movements. Within the HIV field, there are
>> proponents
>> of virginity testing - a group of Zulu women who are arguing that a
>> return to culture is the way to combat the spread of HIV. They focus
>> exclusively on young girls and publicly ‘test’ for virginity,
>> stigmatising those whom they perceive to be sexually active. Many
>> young
>> girls want to belong to this movement of virgins. The social
>> dynamics of
>> forced sex and unequal power in relationships is not addressed.
>> Culture
>> ‘silences’ those who speak out against the practice.
>> There have been attempts to impact on the gender relations by
>> discussing
>> the role of fathers (see HSRC Fatherhood Project), and building
>> these as
>> better role models (they have some wonderful images of fathers and
>> sons,
>> Mandela and children; see also Morrell, 1998, 2001); and also
>> addressing
>> the notion of ‘masculinity’, and how it creates the conditions for
>> violence in relationships, and how it contributes to the spread of
>> HIV. One critique of this is that many are already privileged and a
>> focus on
>> their ‘condition’ takes resources away from the possibility of
>> empowering women.
>> There are also many interventions which focus on the development of
>> youth, providing them with a motivation to live beyond the disease
>> (LoveLife, SoulBuddyz etc). Their rationale is that youth who are
>> motivated towards a significantly different future will not take the
>> risks that those who do not have any hope (about life, employment, a
>> better future etc) seem to be taking
>> All of these approaches have some effect, but do not significantly
>> change the dynamics of the spread of HIV.
>> Why do I keep returning to the local? Maybe because it seems easier
>> to
>> manage and to conceive of something happening. My sense is that
>> over a
>> few years of a research process, the people in this one context
>> really
>> did want to do something differently, and they were open to suggests
>> about what. They are not unaware of the problem of HIV, they were
>> extremely concerned about it. Admittedly, those most concerned were
>> adults (parents who keep seeing youth die). But they wanted to act
>> differently, they don’t want their lives to be so precarious. Male
>> youth
>> don’t seem to see this as much. They seem to feel invincible, and the
>> priorities in their lives ito a particular identity and status are
>> prioritised. Uganda is interesting. The analysis of why HIV/AIDS
>> incidence has
>> dropped points to a range of processes which run simultaneously (see
>> Low-Beer, & Stoneburner 2003 & 2004). Firstly there were
>> ‘horizontal’
>> levels of action which seem to not have occurred in other contexts.
>> What
>> this meant is that people themselves engaged about HIV and death/
>> dying
>> and risk through social networks/community level processes, without
>> there being large scale media interventions. Building on this,
>> there was
>> a particular approach taken on a ‘vertical’ level. There was public
>> and
>> loud acknowledgement by the state that HIV was a problem, there were
>> media campaigns which reinforced messages such as ‘zero grazing’, and
>> there were state policies which made it ‘easy’ to live with HIV –
>> it was
>> a notifiable disease, voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) were
>> widely available, medication (ARVs) were widely available. So, it
>> seems
>> that a combination of a vertical process – top down, policy/legal
>> framework which create the conditions in which people live with
>> HIV; and
>> a horizontal process (which seemed to be more or less ‘spontaneous’,
>> create the appropriate conditions for individuals to do something
>> differently. [There is not much mention of ‘gender’ in this
>> scenario].
>> Of significance is that many of these dynamics do not exist in SA.
>> Discrimination and stigma create terrible conditions for making HIV a
>> notifiable disease (which would then lead to the possibility of
>> marshalling public health resources). The stigma and discrimination
>> have
>> lead to a legal framework which protects the rights of the
>> individual to
>> privacy in relation to their HIV status. The government’s stance on
>> HIV
>> has been hugely problematic (Mbeki’s era and denthe main role, but
>> there are arguments that it did not start there, that
>> Mandela’s government did little to address HIV – see Nattrass).
>> Besides
>> the denialism, having a powerful figure like Jacob Zuma publicly
>> acknowledge that he had unprotected sex with an HIV positive person
>> without a condom, and then had a shower to protect himself from HIV,
>> does nothing for the promotion of protective health practices.
>> There are
>> also resource and management issues: in the last 18 months, there
>> have
>> been cases of defective condoms entering the health system. This has
>> lead to warnings about NOT using condoms with certain serial numbers,
>> but all it seems to have done is add fuel to the argument against
>> condom
>> use. In the video, one young woman argues that the government says we
>> mustn’t use condoms, because they are not safe. The resource and
>> management issue is confounded by the serious lack of capacity at a
>> local government level – post apartheid problems. The pediatric
>> ward at
>> my local hospital has just been closed because it is so unsafe –
>> lack of
>> staff. These are problems which exist through the public sector –
>> health, education, public safety.
>> However, as seems to happen only in SA, things change very quickly!
>> We
>> now have a new president and a new health minister (who doesn’t
>> promote
>> garlic and beetroot and traditional remedies for HIV) (we also have a
>> new potentially significant opposition to the ANC, but that’s another
>> story). This new minister (Barbara Hogan) has publicly acknowledged
>> HIV
>> has priority health issue. So maybe things will change ito the
>> management and treatment of HIV (which affects incidence etc). This
>> might set the conditions for a public response which is different.
>> But I keep returning to the local possibilities, because it seemed,
>> from
>> my experience in this one particular research context, that people
>> wanted to know what was ‘wrong’ and what the dynamics were, and they
>> wanted to be engaged in making it change. I don’t think that I (or
>> anyone else) could go into any setting and just try to change
>> things. I
>> think something about the ongoing engagement with a group of people
>> (through a research process), over time, in a way similar to
>> participatory research (with people as participants and not research
>> subjects), stimulates an interest, investment in, and potential
>> ownership of the process. Something in the Change Lab process seems
>> to
>> be similar to this – a group of people collectively (and willingly)
>> engaging in a reflection on the nature of their reality (very Paulo
>> Freirian). For me, this is where the potential for change seems to
>> reside – in the collective reflection and ‘re-imagining’ of local
>> conditions. This is not a social movement in the sense that there is
>> advocacy etc (very successful with the Treatment Action Campaign –
>> TAC,
>> which got the government to role out ARV and mother-to-child
>> treatment).
>> Maybe it seems more possible because for me as a researcher, it is
>> more
>> manageable than imagining a social movement!
>> Mary
>> Some references
>> Jewkes R et al., (2001) Relationship dynamics and teenage
>> pregnancy in
>> South Africa, Social Science G Medicine, 52(5):733-744,
>> Wood K, & Jewkes R. (1997) Violence, rape and sexual coercion:
>> everyday
>> love in a South African township. Gender and Development 1997; 5(2):
>> 41-6.
>> Wood K, Maforah F, & Jewkes R. (1998) "He forced me to love him":
>> putting violence on adolescents' sexual health agenda. Soc Sci Med;
>> 47(2): 233-42.
>> Wood, K., & Jewkes, R. (2001). Dangerous Love: Reactions on Violence
>> among Xhosa Township Youth. In Morrell, R. (2001) Changing Men in
>> Southern Africa. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press.
>> Low-Beer, D. & Stoneburner, R. (2003). Behaviour and communication
>> change in reducing HIV: Is Uganda unique? African Journal of AIDS
>> Research, 2 (1). 9-12
>> Low-Beer, D. & Stoneburner R. (2004). AIDS communications through
>> social
>> networks: Catalyst for behaviour changes in Uganda. African Journal
>> of
>> AIDS Research, 3(1). 1-13. Morrell, R. 199African
>> Studies”. Journal of Southern African Studies 24 (4): 605–630.
>> Nattrass, N. (2007) Moral combat: Aids denialism and the struggle for
>> antiretrovirals in South Africa. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa:
>> University of KwaZulu-Natal Press
>> Parker, W. ; Makhubele, B; Ntlabati, P. & Connolly, C. (2007)
>> Concurrent sexual partnerships amongst young adults in South Africa:
>> Challenges for HIV prevention communication. Johannesburg, RSA: CADRE
>> (see
>> Mary van der Riet; School of Psychology; University of KwaZulu-Natal
>> Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209
>> email:
>> tel: 033 260 6163; fax: 033 2605809
>>>>> Steve Gabosch <> 11/09/08 09:11 AM >>>
>> Mary, Andy, I got distracted and didn't ask a question that
>> occurred to me during your discussion of possible social bases for
>> an effective movement to reverse the AIDS crisis in SA.
>> It is an obvious question, and is addressed to some extent in the
>> video that was shown at ISCAR: what about young women? It seems
>> to me that they more than anyone have the ultimate power and
>> motivation to significantly change how sexuality is done in SA.
>> Of all the places in the world that could use a thriving feminist
>> movement - and there are plenty of those - the life and death
>> situation in SA and Africa would certainly qualify it as one of
>> the most needed places. You can't just wish movements like that
>> into existence, but sooner or later, women are bound to form one.
>> Once such a thing begins to roll, all the other social layers
>> mentioned - grandmothers, orphans, etc. - will feel empowered and
>> will also become more politicized. Many of us on xmca are old
>> enough to have witnessed that in the US women's movement,
>> sometimes called the third wave of feminism. What are the
>> prospects of building a women's movement in SA that is willing to
>> take the issues of AIDS head on (not to mention other issues)?
>> What incipient forms have feminism, womens rights movements, etc.
>> already taken? What could be done to help?
>> Well, just some thoughts. What do you think?
>> - Steve
>> On Oct 21, 2008, at 2:10 AM, Mary van der Riet wrote:
>>> Dear Andy
>>> I think that there might be a social base for a 'social movement' in
>>> this context, in the sense that parents (the older generation) is
>>> extremely worried about the rate of infection and the increase in
>>> the
>>> number of deaths. However, parents/older people have relatively
>>> little
>>> 'sway' in this context (as do parents all over the world in
>>> relation to
>>> youth).
>>> Although there are orphans, they are often not in orphanages (SA
>>> doesnt
>>> have many and the problem of orphans is huge), but with extended
>>> family
>>> members, or grandmothers who remain the sole adults in the family
>>> who
>>> have not succumbed to HIV. The idea of mobilising orphans is an
>>> interesting one. My sense is that they are usually so overwhelmed
>>> by the
>>> struggle to survive without adults that being advocates for changing
>>> broader social conditions would be hard. They are also often very
>>> young
>>> when they are orphaned (under 10), and so disempowered age-wise too.
>>> Changing the attractiveness of being sexually active (for example as
>>> you suggest, making taking risks into 'stupid' acts) sounds very
>>> much
>>> like changing 'norms/conditions' in the context. There are many
>>> interventions with youth which try to create other activities for
>>> them
>>> (so that the focus is not on sex and risks), and encourage a focus
>>> on
>>> the future. There are examples of campaigns which focus on
>>> creating an
>>> 'HIV-free generation', but I dont think they have re-imaged the
>>> idea of
>>> being sexually attractive - and these campaigns have not had much
>>> of an
>>> effect.
>>> Another possibility of a social base is the people who were
>>> involved in
>>> the research in the first place (youth in the research context). My
>>> assumption is that reflecting on the findings (of risky
>>> practices, rate
>>> of infection, prevalence of HIV etc)> might create the conditions
>>> for future contradictions.
>>> Do you have a particular reference for Peirce and the three
>>> 'registers'
>>> - seems like something useful there
>>> Mary
>>> Mary van der Riet; School of Psychology; University of KwaZulu-Natal
>>> Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209
>>> email:
>>> tel: 033 260 6163; fax: 033 2605809
>>>>>> Andy Blunden <> 2008/10/14 03:37 PM >>>
>>> Mary,
>>> Your work is really exciting. The problem seems almost
>>> insurmountable - how to change the sexual mores of an entire
>>> population??
>>> Just thinking randomly about a few things ...
>>> Social movements need a social base. Is it possible to
>>> identify some social group who is motivated to dedicate
>>> themselves to this task? For example, efforts to stamp out
>>> alcohol abuse in Indigenous Australian communities have
>>> turned to the older women to recruit their shock troops
>>> because these women suffer from the drunkenness of their
>>> men. Maybe even the orphans in orphanages could be
>>> mobilised? ...
>>> The Transport Accident Commission here has had a great deal
>>> of success in lowering the rate of people getting killed in
>>> car accidents by advertising campaigns which aim to make
>>> certain dangerous behaviours just look stupid. Bascially,
>>> you need to change the image of a sexually attractive man or
>>> woman. It is often the case that rational understanding of
>>> the lethal consquences has little effect if people *feel*
>>> powerful and good when doing the unsafe practice.
>>> In general my theory is that, following CS Peirce, you have
>>> to coordiante the attack on three registers: the symbolic
>>> (AIDS is caused by a sexually transmitted virus), the
>>> indexical (a social movement of people motivated to stop the
>>> unsafe sex) and the iconic (making unsafe sex look like what
>>> it is, not sexy but unsafe).
>>> Does that strike ant bells?
>>> Andy
>>> Mary van der Riet wrote:
>>>> Hi all
>>>> I would like to raise the question asked in both of my papers
>>> presented
>>>> at ISCAR (and referred to by Mike below), about the possibilities
>>>> of
>>>> intervention in social problems - such as an epidemic. This is also
>>>> partly in response to Steve Gabosch's post (My Iscar), and an
>>> off-list
>>>> discussion I have been having.
>>>> CHAT (and the ATriangle) really has helped me to understand some of
>>> the
>>>> dynamics around individual responses to HIV. They have, as Steve
>>> says,
>>>> ‘methodological power’.
>>>> The most common response to me research topic is ‘What do you say
>>>> about interventions?’ I don’t think there is an easy answer to
>>>> this. There is perhaps not even ‘an’ answer to this question.
>>> My
>>>> second paper reflected on the implementation of a ‘social
>>>> mobilisation’ process in the same community referred to in the
>>> first
>>>> paper. I perhaps need to provide some background on the idea of
>>>> ‘social mobilisation’ as we used it. Some of my colleagues (in
>>>> an organisation called CADRE) had funding from Save the Children
>>> to
>>>> pilot a ‘social mobilisation’ process. The idea was conceived
>>> by
>>>> Save the Children and was in response to the dominant
>>>> ‘individualistic’ orientation of most HIV and AIDS
>>> interventions.
>>>> The phrase was not theorised deeply by us and because of time
>>> pressure
>>>> we did not look at literature on other ‘social mobilisation’
>>>> processes - which perhaps we should have (and I think that social
>>>> mobilisation in the Marxist sense that Steve refers to is perhaps
>>> what
>>>> the Treatment Action Campaign has been doing ito advocating and
>>>> mobilizing for better policies on HIV treatment and access to
>>>> medication - perhaps a question is what is ‘political’ action
>>> in
>>>> trying to achieve behaviour change as opposed to policy change?,
>>>> and
>>> how
>>>> does this relate to 'individual' level change?)
>>>> After being given the brief by Save the Children, we
>>>> operationalised
>>>> it in our own terms (the report is available on -
>>> Making
>>>> HIV/AIDS >> South Africa, 2002). The initial premise was that
>>>> this was a context
>>>> with a high rate of risky sexual practices, and it was a context in
>>>> which HIV was stigmatized, silenced and ‘othered’. The aim
>>> became:
>>>> how can we, firstly, understand and, secondly, influence the
>>>> community’s ‘response’ to HIV and AIDS to that the broader
>>>> context of their ‘individual activity’ could change. The
>>> assumption
>>>> was that this would set the conditions for individual change.
>>> However,
>>>> it wasn’t really an intervention and implementing the process was
>>> not
>>>> based on a CHAT analysis, so my reflection in the paper is really
>>>> applying CHAT after the fact. It also had slightly different goals
>>> to
>>>> what might have been addressed if the research data had been
>>> followed
>>>> through. The social mobilisation process focused on the group’s
>>>> ‘response’ to HIV in
>>>> a very broad sense (in part to address stigmatisation), and this
>>>> broadness, I think, meant that very limited ‘changes’ resulted
>>> from
>>>> the process.
>>>> I think that the degree of interest on the part of residents of
>>>> this
>>>> particular area in the research process and in the social
>>> mobilisation
>>>> process suggests that it might be possible to set up a process of
>>>> critical reflection through a ‘Change Laboratory’ process in an
>>>> ‘open’ setting (ie not an organizational setting). This is
>>> what
>>>> I would like
>>>> to do once my phd process is finished and this might be able to
>>>> generate some ‘solutions’ to the very huge problem of HIV/AIDS.
>>> One
>>>> of the useful things about the research context is that there is
>>> some
>>>> degree of ‘coherence’ amongst the village residents and between
>>> the
>>>> villages themselves. However, the research process took place a few
>>>> years ago
>>>> and there have been changes since then. And I am still learning
>>> about
>>>> the ‘change lab’ process and would need to raise a team of people
>>> to
>>>> engage in something like this, but its something I am thinking
>>> about.
>>>> so, how does one and how can one make 'changes' in society happen
>>>> to
>>>> the degree that one needs in the HIV/AIDS pandemic (which the
>>>> Report 2008 says is on the rise in Britain, Russia, China, Germany,
>>>> Ukraine and Indonesia)?
>>>> Mary
>>>> Mary van der Riet; School of Psychology; University of KwaZulu-
>>>> Natal
>>>> Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209
>>>> email:
>>>> tel: 033 260 6163; fax: 033 2605809
>>>>>>> "Mike Cole" <> 2008/10/07 08:44 PM >>>
>>>> We have contacted Taylor and Francis to get the new "arrticle for
>>>> discussion" available as a pdf file on their
>>>> MCA page. Meantime, we have these papers for discussion that one or
>>>> another
>>>> of you has asked to discuss.
>>>> Discuss away!!
>>>> mike
>>>> --------------
>>>> *Race and Language as Capital in School: A Sociological Template
>>>> for
>>>> Language Education Reform
>>>> * <>
>>> Allan
>>>> Luke
>>> DRAFT*<
>>> ISCARkeyEngestrom.pdf>
>>>> Yrjö Engeström, University of Helsinki
>>>> *CHAT and HIV/AIDS: An activity system analysis of a lack of
>>> behaviour
>> change*<
>>>> Mary van der Riet
>>>> *Activity Theory and reconceptualising HIV/AIDS
>> interventions*<
>>>> Mary van der Riet
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Received on Tue Nov 11 11:14:15 2008

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