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[Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Wow! Nice quote Larry! I must add that to my collection of Hegel citations (though actually I think it is an Engels quote)! I am not the only one who insists that a concept is a unity of individual, universal and particular!

The thing is, Larry, if we think of the concept of "game", how does the child come to use "game" in a way that adults will understand and in turn be able to react when adults use it? This is of course a protracted process but it is through actions. In Thinking and Speech, Vygotsky explains concept formation only in terms of actions, not any kind of hypothetical mental images or dictionaries or mental filing systems or whatever. It is all actions which are in one way or another organised around some artefact, and in particular a word. At the most elementary level when an adult points and says "That is a game!" that point-and-name is an action. But it is in the whole bundle of actions around the word "game" that a child or an adult learns to use the word correctly, to utter the word meaningfully and coordinate their own actions with respect to the word. The words on their own are nothing. They acquire meaning only through their use in collaborative activity in which the learner participates in some way. The problem is, of course, that not everyone in the world uses the word in a uniform, consistent way.

*Andy Blunden*
On 25/07/2015 1:13 PM, Larry Purss wrote:
This "confusing struggle of different meanings" is of course nothing other than activity. That is how signs and situations acquire psychological meanings.

In my continuing struggle that is definitely confusing I will share Vygotsky's own words on what a concept is:

"A real concept is an IMAGE of an objective thing in all its complexity. Only when we recognize the thing in all its connections and relations, only when this diversity is synthesized in a word in an INTEGRAL IMAGE through a multitude of determinations, do we develop a concept. According to the teaching of dialectical logic, a concept INCLUDES not only the general but also the individual and particular. In contrast to contemplation, to direct knowledge of an object, a concept is filled with definitions of the object; it is the RESULT of rational processing of our existence AND it is mediated knowledge of the object. To think of some object with the help of a concept MEANS TO INCLUDE the GIVEN object in a complex SYSTEM of mediating connection and relations DISCLOSED in determinations of the concept" [Vygotsky, The Collected Works, Volume 5, Child Psychology, page 53]

I felt my struggle I am going through may be relevant to others. In particular "when we recognize the thing in all its connections and relations .... THROUGH a multitude of DETERMINATIONS".
THIS [thing] is synthesized "in a word" IN AN INTEGRAL IMAGE".

On Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 5:00 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Thanks Manfred. I think we are on the same page.
    This "confusing struggle of different meanings" is of
    course nothing other than activity. That is how signs
    and situations acquire psychological meanings, and
    children learn not only by observing but by
    participating in those activities.
    *Andy Blunden*
    On 25/07/2015 5:50 AM, Holodynski, Manfred wrote:

        Hi Andy,
        thanks for your clarification. I now think I have
        understood your message. You are "travelling" in
        the social world and discussing Leontyev's
        understanding of the concept of objective meaning.
        I can now understand your critique that he might
        believe that something like an objective meaning
        may exist or can be extracted from an analysis of
        social interactions. Ok, if one is going to
        analyze what the essence of an "objective meaning"
        e.g. of the word "dog" is (and all the more of
        abstract terms such as feminism, social justice),
        then one will find oneself in a confusing struggle
        of different meanings that are also changing with
        time. So, the objective meaning of a word or
        concept is fuzzy and of many voices. Nevertheless,
        people are sometimes (:-) ) able to communicate
        their personal sense by using words and concepts.
        This is not a hopeless endeavor although it
        sometimes and for some people fails miserably.
        Your construction of a theory of collaborative
        projects is indeed a noteworthy proposal to deal
        with the societal emergence and change of the
        objective meanings of concepts that maintain the
        link between the social and psychological plane.
        Best Manfred

        Prof. Dr. Manfred Holodynski
        Institut für Psychologie in Bildung und Erziehung
        Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
        Fliednerstr. 21
        D-48149 Münster
        +49-(0)-251-83-34311 <tel:%2B49-%280%29-251-83-34311>
        <tel:%2B49-%280%29-251-83-34310> (Sekretariat)
        <tel:%2B49-%280%29-251-83-34314> (Fax)

        -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
        <mailto:uni-muenster.de@mailman.ucsd.edu>] Im
        Auftrag von Andy Blunden
        Gesendet: Donnerstag, 23. Juli 2015 16:26
        An: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
        Betreff: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary

        Er: "macro-unit of activity", not "macro-unity".
        :( Andy
        *Andy Blunden*

        On 24/07/2015 12:10 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:

            Hi Manfred, I am delighted to hear your voice
            again on this list.
            I understand what you are saying. I will try
            to better explain how I
            stand with A N Leontyev.

            I am a social theorist, that is I am
            interested in changing societal
            arrangements (to put it very politely), and I
            am one of few social
            theorists, properly so-called, who base
            themselves on Vygotsky's
            theories, and use Activity Theory as well. My
            position is a
            contradictory one because Vygotsky and
            Leontyev were psychologists
            you) and not social theorists. Social
            Theorists and Psychologists
            generally live in different buildings on the
            university campus, in
            different departments, publish in different
            journals, refer to
            different founding theorists, and altogether
            inhabit different
            universes. Social theorists have ideas about
            psychology, but generally
            not scientific ones, and vice versa.
            In my opinion, Vygotsky's ideas provide an
            excellent foundation for
            social theory because he introduced into human
            development and every
            interaction between two individuals a
            culturally produced sign. But he
            only went so far. He showed how people acted
            and developed within
            their social situation, but he did not tackle
            the problem of how that
            situation arose. Leontyev, by his discovery of
            the Activity as a
            macro-unity of activity, made an epoch-making
            development which opened
            CHAT to become a fully developed
            social-and-psychological theory. But
            what he said himself on questions of social
            theory was of very poor
            quality, as I said, "Neanderthal." Not the
            sort of ideas that would
            win any following among social theorists
            today. But he was after all a
            Psychologist and not a Social Theorist, so he
            is forgiven.

            Now, to your point. If I am not mistaken
            "objective meaning" is not a
            psychological category at all for Leontyev.
            Yes? And personal sense
            is, as you eloquently explain, a fundamental
            Psychological category.
            So if what I said were to be interpreted to
            say that personal sense is
            a subset of objective meaning, that would be
            quite wrong. While I
            accept (as I must) a categorical difference
            between material
            objects/processes and their reflection in my
            mind, I do not at all
            understand societal processes as
            nonpsychological processes. I try to
            conceive of them together in one unit, and I
            think I am on my own
            there (some Freudian/Phenomenologists aside).
            There remains of course the distinction
            between the individual
            (Einzeln) and the universal (Allgemein),
            mediated by the particular
            (Besonder). A human individual is something
            radically different from a
            number of individuals. For the human
            individual and how they erleben a
            social situation, I rely on my friends and
            I am interested in how the Activities go. In
            small part to avoid
            having arguments with followers of Leontyev I
            call activities
            So I reserve the right to say things about
            projects without a follower
            of Leontyev correcting me. "Project" is not a
            mysterious or esoteric
            concept; every English-speaker knows what a
            project is, and if there
            is any confusion with projects as defined by
            Existentialists, I call
            them "collaborative projects." (i.e., people
            usually join them, not
            create them).  These include capitalist firms,
            political parties,
            sporting clubs or indeed whole sports, a
            family, a professional career
            - all those things which gives our lives
            mening while we build the
            world we and our children must live in, what
            Fedor Vasilyuk called an
            отношение . A project is not a collection of
            people, it is an
            aggregate of actions (like an Activity) and
            the "logic" of projects is
            something different from Psychology, but it is
            inclusive of Psychology
            as well. A project is a kind of psychological
            phenomenon, but it is
            also much more than psychology, because, as
            you remind us, people
            regulate their own behaviour using signs
            created in the world beyond
            their ken. Projects are the material substance
            of Concepts, and I rely
            on Vygotsky for a Psychology of concepts. OK?

            Everything you said (except how you
            characterised my
            ideas) I agree with. Complex business isn't it?!


            *Andy Blunden*

            On 23/07/2015 10:37 PM, Holodynski, Manfred wrote:

                Hi Andy,
                with great interest, I follow the
                discussion and your interpretation
                of A N Leontyev's contradiction between
                subjective sense and
                objective meaning. As far as I interpret
                ANL he presented a very
                elegant solution of the relation between
                sense and meaning: For ANL,
                subjective sense is not a part or subset
                of objective meaning (as you
                seem to insinuate him), but a
                psychological quality that emerges when
                a person uses societal signs and their
                objective meanings in order to
                regulate his or her socially embedded
                What happens is a transformation of
                societal meanings into the
                personal sense of those involved. The
                personal sense that an
                individual assigns to interactions, facts,
                and experiences through
                the use of signs can be conceptualized not
                as a subset of societal
                meanings but as a particular sphere of
                mind that is constituted by
                two psychological factors in particular
                (a) the relation to the
                motives of the person, and (b) the
                relation to the situated and
                sensorially mediated experiences of the
                individual within the process
                of internalization.
                a) People do not appropriate the use of
                signs and their meanings
                during social interactions in an impartial
                They interpret and use them in the light
                of their actually elicited
                motives along with the motives they assign
                to the interaction
                partner. The societal meaning of the used
                signs does not have to
                match the individually assigned personal
                sense. For example, an
                outsider may well interpret a public fit
                of rage by a low-ranking
                bank employee toward his superior as an
                inexcusable violation of
                social etiquette. However, for the menial
                employee, it may well be a
                reassertion of self-esteem in response to
                a humiliating directive.
                b) The personal sense of sign-use is also
                determined by the
                situatedness and sensory mediation of the
                previous encounters in
                which the use of signs is (or was)
                embedded. Societal meanings are
                coded primarily not by propositional
                phrases (e.g., “a dog is a
                mammal” or “wide-open eyes signal fear”)
                but through their ties to
                sensorially mediated and situated
                perceptions—as complex as these
                interrelations may be (Leont’ev, 1978).
                For example, two persons can
                use propositional phrases to agree on the
                same definition of the term
                “dog” or “fear.”
                These terms, however, will be situated
                very differently and enriched
                with other sensory perceptions when one
                person grew up with a very
                likeable family dog and the other person
                experienced a highly
                dramatic episode with an overpoweringly
                large and aggressive dog.
                Thus, conventionalized signs and the
                meanings assigned to them are
                subject to an interpersonal process of
                interpretation and
                coordination that more or less
                successfully supports the embodiment
                and expression of personal sense. People
                do not have a private
                “speech” at their disposal that they can
                construct and use on their
                own (Wittgenstein). Therefore, they depend
                on the appropriation and
                use of conventionalized signs when they
                want to communicate
                successfully and satisfy their motives in
                social interactions.
                By an act of reflection, the person can
                try to realize and to become
                aware of his personal relation and sense
                of the situation and the
                used signs, but also this reflection has
                to fall back on societal
                signs in order to express this personal
                relations. So, this is the
                overall tension between objective meaning
                of an event or an object
                and its personal sense for a specific person.

                Prof. Dr. Manfred Holodynski
                Institut für Psychologie in Bildung und
                Erziehung Westfälische
                Wilhelms-Universität Münster Fliednerstr. 21
                D-48149 Münster
                <tel:%2B49-%280%29-251-83-34310> (Sekretariat)
                <tel:%2B49-%280%29-251-83-34314> (Fax)


                -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
                d.edu <http://d.edu>]

                Im Auftrag von Andy Blunden
                Gesendet: Donnerstag, 23. Juli 2015 06:32
                An: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
                Cc: Geoffrey C. Bowker
                Betreff: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of
                Boundary Objects

                I was waiting to see what Lubomir would
                say in response to my post to
                take it from there, Mike, but I will try
                to respond as best I can to
                the question about subjectivism and
                When I first remarked in my 2009 paper
                that I thought that A N
                Leontyev was too much of an objectivist,
                Morten Nissen remarked that
                that was odd, because in Europe ATists
                thought he was too subjective.
                So there you are!
                Activity Theory as propounded by ANL is a
                theory of Psychology, and
                yet I want to use AT as a foundation for
                social theory, so my claim
                does seem anomalous.

                What it comes down to is the insistence of
                ANL in interpreting
                contradictions between the "subjective sense"
                and the "objective meaning" of an activity
                in terms of the social vs.
                the individual. This reduces subjectivity
                to a matter of the
                capriciousness of the individual mind or
                the underdevelopment of the
                child mind. This is hardly objectionable
                in the domain of child
                development, but in the domain of social
                theory it is a Neanderthal
                Social life is made up of a multiplicity
                of standpoints among which
                none have the right to claim unproblematic
                "objective truth"
                for themselves. This is the basis on which
                I describe ANL as giving
                too much to the Object. Engestrom on the
                other hand, is different,
                but people's intentions are relegated to
                investigation" which are preliminary to
                the investigation itself. I
                see Engestrom's approach as a kind of
                social behaviourist approach in
                which change occurs only thanks to
                "contradictions" at different
                levels in the "system." My aim in
                proposing to see the "system" as a
                "project" at one or another phase in its
                life cycle aims to restore
                the purposiveness of human action to
                Activity Theory. The
                interpretation of purposes and intentions
                in social science is a
                challenge, but I believe that with the aid
                of Hegel it can be met.

                I am happy to join Rubinshtein and declare
                "All the the Subject!"
                though I know nothing at all of his work.

                The problem with your question about
                Boundary Objects, Mike, is that
                though I knew nothing of them a little
                while ago, I can now see 3
                different meanings of the term. So perhaps
                Geoffrey is in the best
                position to answer this question, and I
                look forward to his answer.

                *Andy Blunden*
                On 23/07/2015 2:13 PM, mike cole wrote:


                    I am overwhelmed by this thread so
                    this's query may be badly timed.
                    But ....  I recall Lubomir writing
                    that AT was centered on the
                    subject. And now Andy is gesturing to
                    Strands of AT theory that give
                    everything to the object.

                    Question-- isn't this a version of
                    Rubenshtein/Leontiev schools'
                    conflict? Or LSV "vs" AN L on the
                    problem of the environment?


                    What is at stake here theoretically
                    and practically?
                    PS.  I am still trying to absorb the
                    multifaceted discussion of
                    boundary object.  I almost want to ask
                    -- what forms of joint
                    mediated activity do not involve
                    boundary objects? But I am pretty
                    sure that not knowing the answer to
                    this question is a result of the
                    richness of the discussion.

                    It's fair to say that XMCA is a
                    boundary object??

                    On Wednesday, July 22, 2015, Andy
                    Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
                    <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:

                          That is exactly right, Larry, I
                    am advocating a
                          humanism, in opposition to
                          structuralism Marxism, and
                    strands of Activity Theory
                          which give everything to the Object.

                          *Andy Blunden*
                          On 23/07/2015 2:24 AM, Lplarry

                              Here is a quote from the
                    introduction of "The
                              Cambridge Handbook of
                    Merleau-Ponty on the topic
                              of the subject.

                              "Foucault's archaeological
                    studies of the early
                              1970's, most notably "The
                    Order of Things" and
                              "The Archaeology of
                    Knowledge", did perhaps more
                              than any other work of the
                    period to LEGITIMIZE
                              conceiving of processes
                    without subjects."

                              This is an "antihumanist"
                    program as Foucault saw
                              the failure of phenomenology
                    and the residual
                              links between subjectivism
                    and anthropology.

                              The force of Foucault's
                    argument was tying the
                              philosophy of the subject to
                    what he saw as an
                              outmoded humanism.

                              It may be what Andy is
                    highlighting is a new humanism.


                              From: Lubomir Savov Popov
                              Sent: ‎2015-‎07-‎22 8:55 AM
                              To: eXtended Mind, Culture,
                    Andy Blunden

                              Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                    Emergence of Boundary

                              Hi Alfredo,

                              The object doesn't carry in
                    itself the motive and
                              the purpose of activity.
                    Actually, depending on
                              the motive and purpose of
                    activity, the object can
                              be approached in many
                    different ways.

                              It is true that the
                    relationship between the
                              object and the subject
                    caries the
purpose/goal/objective/motive of
                    activity. This
                              type of relationship might
                    has several aspects and
                              the teleological aspect is
                    one of them. Actually,
                              in AT, the teleological
                    aspect is central one
                              among all aspects of
                    Subject-Object relationships.

                              The teleological aspect in
                    AT is envisaged at
                              several levels with
                    distinctive teleological
                              phenomena: motivation, goal,

                              It is difficult to find
                    diagrams of the structure
                              of activity with its three
                    levels. I just tried to
                              do that and in most cases I
                    got the famous
                              "triangle." The internet is
                    dominated by English
                              language texts where the
                    authors evidently use
                              that version of activity
                    theory. The three
                              structural levels of
                    activity might be found in t


                              -----Original Message-----
                              On Behalf Of Alfredo Jornet Gil
                              Sent: Wednesday, July 22,
                    2015 11:25 AM
                              To: eXtended Mind, Culture,
                    Activity; Andy Blunden
                              Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                    Emergence of Boundary

                              That was a very helpful
                    entry, Andy. Thanks!
                              I see that our treatment of
                    object in the paper is
                              very much in line with the
                    notion of
                              Arbeitsgegenstand as you
                    describe it.

                              I have many questions, most
                    of which I should find
                              in the literature rather
                    than bother here. But I
                              would like to ask one here.
                    It concerns the quote
                              that the object "carries in
                    itself the purpose and
                              motive of the activity."
                    What does "in itself"
                              mean here?
                              Thanks again for a very
                    informative post,
                              on behalf of Andy Blunden

                              Sent: 22 July 2015 08:31
                              To: eXtended Mind, Culture,
                              Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                    Emergence of Boundary

                              If I could try to do my
                    thing and draw attention
                              to some
                              distinctions in this field
                    ... we have at least three
                              different versions of
                    Activity Theory involved
                              here plus
                              Leigh Star's theory and in
                    addition the theories
                              that have
                              spun off from Leigh Star's
                    initial idea. Each is
                              using the
                              word "object" in a different
                    way, all of them
                              uses of the English word,
                    but all indexing different
                              concepts. So for the sake of
                    this discussion I
                              will invent
                              some different terms.

                              The German word
                    Arbeitsgegenstand means the object of
                              labour, the material which
                    is to be worked upon, the
                              blacksmith's iron. It is
                    objective, in that if may
                              be a nail
                              to a man with a hammer and
                    waste material for a
                              man with a
                              broom, but it is all the
                    same Arbeitsgegenstand.
                              use the word "Object" in the
                    middle of the left
                              side of the
                              triangle to mean
                    Arbeitsgegenstand, and when it
                              has been
                              worked upon it becomes
                    "Outcome." The hammer that the
                              blacksmith uses is called
                    "Instruments" or now
                              "instrumentality," and the
                    Rules, whether implicit or
                              explicit, these are
                    respectively the base and apex
                              of the

                              Engestrom says " The object
                    carries in itself the
                              and motive of the activity."
                    So this "purpose or
                              motive" is
                              not shown on the triangle,
                    but I will call it the
                              This is what Leontyev meant
                    by "object" when he
                              talks about
                              "object-oriented activity."
                    The OBJECT is a
                              complex notion,
                              because it is only
                    *implicit* in the actions of the
                              subject(s); it is not a
                    material thing or process
                              as such.
                              Behaviourists would exclude
                    it altogether. But
                              this is what
                              is motivating all the
                    members of the design team
                              when they
                              sit down to collaborate with
                    one another. Bone one
                              of the
                              team thinks the OBJECT is to
                    drive the nail into
                              the wood
                              and another thinks the
                    OBJECT is to sweep the
                              Arbeitsgegenstand into the
                    wastebin. These OBJECTs
                              change in
                              the course of collaboration
                    and in the End an
                              OBJECT Is
                              *realised* which is the
                    "truth" of the
                              collaboration, to use
                              Hegel's apt terminology here.

                              Surely it is important to
                    recognise that while
                              shares the same
                    Arbeitsgegenstand, and ends up
                              with Outcome
                              as the same OBJECT, along
                    the road they construe
                              the object
                              differently. This is what
                    Vygotsky showed so
                              clearly in
                              Thinking and Speech. It is
                    not the
                              Arbeitsgegenstand or some
                              problem carried within it
                    alone which motivates
                              action, but
                              *the concept the subject
                    makes of the

                              Then Leigh Star comes along
                    and applies (as
                              Lubomir astutely
                              notices) postmodern ideology
                    critique to the
                              within an ostensibly neutral
                    infrastructure - that
                              is, in
                              Engestrom's terms Rules and
                    Instruments, which are
                              supposed to be there just to
                    aid collaboration.
                              And Leigh
                              Star shows that this is an
                    illusion; the Rules and
                              Instruments are in fact
                    residues of past
                              which carry within them the
                    Outcomes, i.e.,
                              realised OBJECTs
                              of past collaborations. It
                    is these one-time OBJECTs,
                              now-Instruments+Rules which
                    are the Boundary Objects.

                              But it seems that other have
                    grasped the
                              postmodern critique
                              elements of this idea, that
                              ideologically neutral
                              obJects (in the expanded
                    sense of socially constructed
                              entities, usually far more
                    than OBJects - as
                              things, or
                              artefacts, including
                    institutions - fossilised
                              "systems of
                              activity") and recognised
                    the shared OBJECT as a
                              Object, reflecting the fact
                    not everyone has the same
                              concept of the OBJECT, as
                    Vygotsky proved.

                              But what Engestrom has done,
                    by placing the
                              Boundary Object
                              in the place of Object on
                    his triangle, joining
                              two "systems
                              of activity," for the
                    purpose of looking not at
                              but rather the conflict
                    within the broader
                              The reconstrual of the
                    Arbeitsgegenstand is
                              deliberate and
                              aimed to change the relation
                    between Subject and
                              (here referring to the
                    Hegelian "Object" usually
                              rendered as
                              "the Other.") thereby
                    introducing yet a different
                              strand of
                              postmodern critique into the
                    equation, namely
                              Poststructuralism, to mind
                    mind, with great effect.

                              OK, so we have
                    Arbeitsgegenstand. OBJECT, Boundary
                              OBject, obJECT and obJect.
                    And I might say, the
                              situation is
                              almost as bad in Russian and



                              *Andy Blunden*

                              On 22/07/2015 5:46 AM,
                    Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:
                              > Thanks a lot for your
                    appreciation, Lubomir.
                              > To clarify my question in
                    the previous e-mail, I
                              wish to add that I am a bit
                    familiar with the
                              distinction between object
                    and tool in activity
                              theory, though not enough
                    yet. I can see, and we
                              were aware through the
                    process, that what we
                              describe in the paper has to
                    do with how the
                              object of design emerged and
                    developed for the
                              team in and as they were
                    dealing with, developing,
                              and resorting to particular
                    means or tools. But I
                              guess we could say that in
                    our analyses there is a
                              lack of a historical account
                    of the object that
                              goes over and above the
                    particular instances
                              analyzed. Although we
                    provide with some
                    contextualization of the team's
                              developmental trajectories,
                    all of our discussion
                              is grounded on concrete
                    events and their
                              transactional unfolding. We
                    did not resort to the
                              distinction between object
                    and means because it
                              seemed to be the same thing
                    in the there and then
                              of the episodes analyzed, at
                    least in what
                              participants' orientations
                    concerned. If they ori
                              >   ented towards anything
                    beyond what was there
                              in the meetings, it was in
                    and through the
                              meetings' means. How would
                    then the distinction
                              between means and object
                    have added to our
                              understanding of the events?
                    (And this is not to
                              doubt of the contribution
                    from such a distinction,
                              I really mean to ask this
                    question for the purpose
                              of growing and expanding;
                    and as said before, part
                              of the answer may be found
                    in Engestrom et al.
                              > As to how we would
                    position our contribution
                              with regard to activity
                    theory, I would reiterate
                              what we said when
                    introducing the paper for
                              discussion: we begun with
                    the purpose of working
                              outside any particular
                    framework and think, as we
                              think Star did, broadly,
                    drawing from several
                              sources. These included
                    cultural historical
                    ethnomethodology, and discourse
                              analysis. But also the ideas
                    about Experience (in
                              the Deweyan/Vygotskyan
                    sense) that have been the
                              topic in this discussion
                    were in the background
                              all the time, but we did not
                    operationalize them
                              in terms of any particular
                    theory. This is not to
                              say that we went for the
                    "anything goes;" we tried
                              our best to keep internal
                    coherence between what
                              we said about the data, and
                    what the data was
                              exhibiting for us. Perhaps
                    Rolf would like to add
                              to this.
                              > I think the questions you
                    are rising about
                              activity theory are very
                    much in the spirit of
                              what I am after, and I am
                    not the best to answer
                              them; but this xmca list may
                    be one of the best
                              places to be asking those
                              > Alfredo
                              > From:
                              on behalf of Lubomir Savov
                    Popov <lspopov@bgsu.edu

                              > Sent: 21 July 2015 21:16
                              > To: eXtended Mind,
                    Culture, Activity
                              > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                    Emergence of Boundary
                              > Dear Alfredo and Rolf,
                              > There are also a few other
                    things that I would
                              like to bring to this
                              > First, you have a
                    wonderful project and a great
                              article. It is a great
                    example of an
                              interpretativist approach to
                    everyday life
                              phenomena. Really
                    interesting and fascinating. It
                              is all about our minds,
                    culture, and activity.
                              > However, how is your
                    approach related to classic
                              Activity Theory? Some people
                    might find that it is
                              a Symbolic Interactionist
                    approach; others might
                              say it one of the
                    Deconstructivist approaches that
                              emerge right now or have
                    emerged in the last
                              decades; still other people
                    might look for
                              connections to
                    ethnomethodology, discourse
                              analysis, etc. I am not
                    trying here to impose a
                              template or categorize your
                    methodology -- just
                              raising a question about its
                    connection to
                              Activity Theory. And again,
                    I am not saying that
                              this is a shortcoming -- I
                    would like to clarify
                              certain things for myself.
                              > For example: What are the
                    limits and boundaries
                              of Activity Theory? How much
                    we can fuse Activity
                              Theory and Postmodernist
                    approaches? What do we
                              gain when we infuse new
                              epistemological, and
                    ontological realities into
                              Activity Theory? What do we
                    lose? What is the
                              threshold when it is not
                    Activity Theory anymore?
                              (I mean here Activity Theory
                    as research
                              methodology.) Do we need to
                    call something
                              Activity Theory if it is
                    not? If we create a new
                              approach starting with
                    Activity Theory, do we need
                              to call it Activity Theory?
                              > Activity Theory is a
                    product of Modern thinking,
                              Late Modernism. The
                    discourse you use in your
                              paper borrows strongly from
                    Postmodern discourses
                              and approaches. I am not
                    sure that Modernist and
                              Postmodernist discourses can
                    be fused. We can
                              borrow ideas across the
                    range of discourses, but
                              after we assimilate them for
                    use in our project,
                              they will "change hands" and
                    will change their
                              particular discourse
                    affiliation and will become
                              completely different
                    components of a completely
                              different discourse. Mostly
                    because the
                              epistemologies and
                    ontologies are different; and
                              the concepts are very
                    different despite of the
                              similarities in ideas and
                    words used to name these
                              > Just a few questions that
                    I hope will help me
                              understand better what is
                    going on in the realm of
                              > Thank you very much for
                    this exciting discussion,
                              > Lubomir
                              > -----Original Message-----
                              > From:
                              On Behalf Of Alfredo Jornet Gil
                              > Sent: Tuesday, July 21,
                    2015 11:36 AM
                              > To: eXtended Mind,
                    Culture, Activity; Andy Blunden
                              > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                    Emergence of Boundary
                              > Andy, all,
                              >   I just recently begun to
                    read Engeström and
                              cols. contribution to the
                    special issue, which is
                              very interesting. I have
                    particular interest in
                              the difference that they
                    point out between
                              boundary object on the one
                    hand, and object and
                              instrumentality as different
                    aspects of activity
                              theory on the other. Rolf
                    and I came across this
                              distinction while writing
                    our own paper. We
                              noticed that the museum
                    space, through multiple
                              forms of presentations
                    (e.g., the room itself, a
                              floor plan, performances of
                    being in the room
                              while not being there, etc),
                    was a means, an
                              instrument for achieving a
                    final design product.
                              > At the same time, the
                    museum space begun to
                              become the object of the
                    designers' activity.
                              Since this were
                    interdisciplinary designs, and the
                              partners had multiple,
                    sometimes opposite
                              interests, what seemed to be
                    a common object for
                              all them was the museum as
                    place. Thus, most
                              representations of it begun
                    to be made in terms of
                              narratives about being
                    there. That was the
                              orientation that seemed to
                    stick them together.
                              > Thus, the museum space was
                    both object and
                              instrument. We wondered
                    whether we should do
                              connections to notions of
                    object of activity and
                              tools, but we felt that that
                    road would take us
                              away from the focus on body
                    and experience. We
                              ended up drawing from Binder
                    et al (2011), who
                              differentiate between object
                    of design, the design
                              thing that work delivers,
                    and the object's
                              constituents (or means of
                    presentation before the
                              design thing is finished).
                              > When bringing the notion
                    of boundary object into
                              the picture, we could
                    discuss the history of
                              development of these
                    relations between the
                              different forms of
                    presentations of the museum
                              means towards the object
                    without necessarily
                              articulating the differences
                    between the two. One
                              advantage was that boundary
                    objects focus on the
                              materiality, which, as
                    already mentioned, is not
                              about materials in
                    themselves, but about
                              consequences in action. From
                    the point of view of
                              the persons implicated in
                    the process, the museum
                              space as object of design
                    was an issue in and
                              through the working with
                    some material, some form
                              of presenting it or changing
                    it. Both object and
                              instrument seemed to be
                    moments of a same
                              experience. But I still want
                    to learn what we may
                              get out of making the
                    distinction between object
                              and tool, as Engeström and
                    colleagues do (so I
                              should perhaps read more
                    carefully their study
                              rather than be here thinking
                              > Any thoughts?
                              > Alfredo
                              > From:
                              on behalf of Andy Blunden

                              > Sent: 21 July 2015 14:38
                              > To: eXtended Mind,
                    Culture, Activity
                              > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                    Emergence of Boundary
                              > Henry, anything. But the
                    point is objects which
                              play some
                              > role in mediating the
                    relation between subjects,
                              probably a
                              > symbolic role, but
                    possibly an instrumental
                              role, too, and
                              > one subject challenges
                    that role and turns the
                              object into
                              > its opposite, and changes
                    the terms of
                              > A number of examples
                    spring to mind.
                              >    * Loaded, especially
                    pejorative words, such
                              as Queer, are
                              >      embraced by a
                    despised group who take
                              control of the
                              >      word and assertively
                    embrace it;
                              >    * The post-WW2 women's
                    peace movement who
                              deployed their
                              >      stereotype as
                    housewives and mothers to
                              magnificant effect;
                              >    * ISIS's hatred and
                    fear of women turned into
                              a weapon
                              >      against them by
                    Kurdish women fighters
                              (ISIS flee before
                              >      them rather than in
                              >    * The Chartists who
                    turned the British govt's
                              stamp which
                              >      put newspapers out of
                    reach of workers
                              against them by
                              >      printing the Northern
                    Star as a stamped
                              newspaper and
                              >      obliging workers to
                    club together in groups
                              to buy and
                              >      read it, thus making
                    the paper into a
                              >      organising tool;
                              >    * the naming of
                    Palestine and the Occupied
                              Territory /
                              >      Israel is the
                    struggle over the meaning of
                              a shared
                              >      object (the land);
                              >    * Gandhi's use of the
                    landloom as both a
                              weapon and tool
                              >      for Indian
                    independence and
                              self-sufficiency, raising it
                              >      from the status of
                    obsolete and inferior
                              technology to a
                              >      symbol of India.
                              > In think this is not what
                    Susan Leigh Star had
                              in mind when
                              > she introduced the term,
                    but core point is that the
                              > ideological construction
                    placed upon an object
                              is subject to
                              > contestation, and if
                    successful, the re-marking
                              of an
                              > artefact is a tremendously
                    powerful spur to
                              > Yrjo raises the question:
                    is the"boundary object" a
                              > mediating artefact or the
                    object of work
                              > (/Arbeitsgegenstand/)? I
                    think the answer is
                              that in these
                              > cases it is a mediating
                    artefact, tool or
                              symbols according
                              > to context. In principle
                    it is not the Object in the
                              > Engestromian sense, though
                    it might happen to be.
                              > Andy

                              > *Andy Blunden*
                              > On 21/07/2015 12:27 PM,
                    HENRY SHONERD wrote:
                              >> Rolf, Alfredo, Andy,
                              >> I got to thinking about
                    the photographs as
                              boundary objects. What about
                              >> Henry
                              >>> On Jul 20, 2015, at 6:07
                    PM, Andy Blunden
                    <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
                              >>> Yes, thinking about this
                    overnight, I came to
                              see that it was the
                    photographs that Thomas was
                              endeavouring to turn to use
                    to recover his
                              humanity. This is consonant
                    with how Yrjo was
                              using the idea in relation
                    to the subsistence
                              farmers' movement in Mexico
                    and their corn.
                              >>> Thanks Rolf!
                              >>> Andy

                              >>> *Andy Blunden*
                              >>> On 21/07/2015 3:04 AM,
                    Rolf Steier wrote:
                              >>>> This makes sense to me,
                    Andy. I could also
                              interpret the photographs as
                    boundary objects as
                              they support the
                    coordination of therapy
                              activities between Thomas
                    and the nurse. I think
                              it depends on the aspect of
                    activity one is
                              attempting to explore as
                    opposed to the definite
                              identification of what may
                    or may not be a
                              boundary object. This is
                    only my opinion though!
                              >>>> On Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at
                    3:49 PM, Andy Blunden
                              >>>>      Or alternatively,
                    the boundary object in
                              question is
                              >>>>      Thomas's aged
                    body, which is subject
                    to an
                              >>>>      interpretation
                    which Thomas contests by
                              >>>>      photographs of far
                    away places and
                              explaining how
                              >>>>      well-travelled he
                    is, seeking an
                              interpretation of
                              >>>>      himself as a
                    well-travelled and
                              >>>>      man-of-the-world.
                              >>>>      Does that make
                    better sense?
                              >>>>      Andy

                              >>>>      *Andy Blunden*

                              >>>>      On 20/07/2015
                    11:27 PM, Andy Blunden
                              >>>>          Yes, I agree.
                    My own interest is in
                              social theory
                              >>>>          and I'd never
                    heard of "boundary
                              objects." It
                              >>>>          seems to me
                    that what BOs do is
                              introduce some
                              >>>>          social theory
                    into domains of
                              activity (scientific
                              >>>>          and work
                    collaborations for example)
                              where the
                              >>>>          participants
                    naively think they are
                              >>>>          on neutral
                    ground. So it is not just
                              >>>>          but also the
                    ideological context.
                              >>>>          In Yjro
                    Engestrom's article, the
                              home care workers
                              >>>>          collaborate
                    with the old couple
                              according to rules
                              >>>>          and
                    regulations, communications
                              >>>>          technology,
                    finance and so on, which
                              in the
                              >>>>          unnamed
                    country, the old couple are
                              >>>>          cast as
                    "patients". Isn't it the
                              case that here it
                              >>>>          is those rules
                    and regulations,
                              etc., which are
                              >>>>          the "boundary
                              >>>>          Andy

                              >>>>          *Andy Blunden*
                              >>>>          On 20/07/2015 11:1

                              [The entire original message
                    is not included.]


                    Both environment and species change in
                    the course of time, and thus
                    ecological niches are not stable and
                    given forever (Polotova &
                    Storch, Ecological Niche, 2008)