Regarding your concern with the lock-step of feeling the
same emotions and values in the same situations, I wonder
if the same might be said of your concern with "the
dangers inherent in appropriating expressions like these,"
and your insistence on "shared concepts"
In the case of the concept, it seems like you may be
asking for a lock-step of harmonious meaning in which the
meanings of a concept are policed (by whom? whose
conception of the concept rules the meaning?) to ensure
that everyone is "thinking the same thing" when they
deploy the concept (e.g., "zone of proximal development").
I wonder if Starr's "boundary objects" might be useful
here to free up concepts a bit?
Can we imagine concepts being differently meaningful to
different people engaged in different activities? (and
indeed, I wonder if this might be the only way to ensure
that a concept can exist).
I'm sympathetic to the concerns of some kind of
Derrida-ian anarchy of meaning in which nothing means
anything, and I understand that the particular value of a
concept as a transformative act (e.g., to see the world
differently) often depends on a very particular and
specific meaning of that concept (the understanding of
which has everything to do with the cultural and
historical context of that concept!).
But, when it comes to concepts, might there be some middle
ground between legislated lock-step meaning and
anarchical, meaningless meaning? (and perhaps this is
necessary for "development" too, both individual and
community, for who was able to really "get" Vygotsky upon
Andy, upon a second reading of your post, I suspect that
this is what you were getting at in your post, so please
forgive me for sounding ignorant of your meaning!
Delighted at the conversation about interdisciplinarity.
On Sun, Mar 20, 2016 at 4:34 AM, Andy Blunden
<firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>> wrote:
I don't know if the issue is having common interests,
Cliff. I think it's very productive, even necessary,
that each little bunch of us has different concerns
and shines light on different aspects of human life.
But what we really need is shared concepts, through
which we can understand each other and collaborate. So
it is good news that CC has appropriated zone of
proximal development, activity setting, shared
activity and the law of genetic development.
I think we need to be very conscious of the dangers
inherent in appropriating expressions like these
though. You pointed out that in the early days of CC,
"'cultural psychology' was generally practiced as
'cross-cultural', largely as comparison studies", but
everything I read in your paper tends to suggest
"culture" is still understood and used in just this
sense. Consequently it is very easy to miss the
meaning attached to "culture" in CHAT, which, after
all, originated in pretty much a mono-cultural
situation. One word can index different concepts.
Achieving interdisciplinarity is only achieved by
means of shared concepts. But on the other hand, since
the content of a concept is ultimately the larger
system of practices to which it is indigenous, it
seems almost as if a concept can only be shared when
the broader context of its use is already assimilated.
Along these lines, it was a little while before I
realised that you were using the word
"intersubjectivity" with quite a different meaning
than I would. It seems to denote empathy.
"Intersubjectivity involves co-actors feeling the same
emotions and values in the same situations," and I
don't even know it means to "feel values."
Connected with this the description of joint action,
turned out to be in sharp contrast to my conception of
it. As I see it, collaboration (my preferred term,
rather than "joint action") necessarily entails both
moments of conflict as well as cooperation. Harmony
and bliss are great things, but I think they are
rather cheaply purchased simply by everyone marching
I suspect that these two examples of shared words
indicating different concepts are connected to the
hope of mutual appropriation by means of having a
"center of commonality."
On 20/03/2016 12:28 PM, Cliff O'Donnell wrote:
Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Alfredo.
Roland and I thought that although CC and CHAT
have many common interests, most folks in each
appeared to be unaware of the other (judging by
the infrequency of common citations). As described
in our article, we and several of our colleagues
have been influenced by CHAT and have used CHAT
concepts in our research and intervention
programs. As for influence in the opposite
direction, perhaps the KEEP project, Seymour
Sarason's work, and some of Maynard's work with
Greenfield. Also Kurt Lewin is a source common to
both CC and CHAT. I too would be interested to
hear of additional influence in the opposite
You are correct that Delta Theory builds on
psychosocial systems with Vygotsky as an important
source. Delta Theory boldly attempts to be a
universal theory of how change occurs using Delta
as the symbol for change.
I'm pleased that you found the discussion of
cognitive science, psycho-neurology, and a
potential center of commonality in psychology of
interest! That is the goal of the article, i.e.,
to show how the commonality of CC and CHAT have
the potential to form that commonality with
developmental, educational, cognitive, and
neuro-psychology. Hopefully this discussion format
will facilitate interest in the process.
On Mar 19, 2016, at 6:17 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:
Thanks Cliff and Mike for sharing this
interesting article. I was not familiar to
cultural community psychology and this and the
other papers in the symposium do a great job
introducing and concisely describing the
field, and how it evolved from community to
cultural community psychology.
As I was reading, I wondered how much the
influence of CHAT literature had influenced
the development of community psychology itself
from the start. As I progressed in my reading,
I then found clear references to these
influences, which even meant the delay of the
publishing of Roland's work, I assume, due to
the important input that Vygotsky's
publications meant for the project. But then I
wondered on what had been other sources. What
were other foundational influences to the
field? I'd be interested to know about them in
part because, while the paper discusses many
examples in which CHAT gives input to CC, I
would like to know more about the (possible)
inputs in the other direction.
Also, I found interesting the mention of a new
center of commonality in psychology in
general. I was glad to see, however brief,
mentions to research in cognitive science and
psycho-neurology. In your paper, Delta theory
is mentioned as a move forward towards
integration. In the case of CHAT, this was
pursued by means of developing a scientific
discipline based on dialectical materialism
and the sociogenetic method. Delta theory (I
just had a very brief first contact) seems to
build upon the notion of psychosocial systems.
This sounds very much in line with Vygotsky,
who surely is a central source. Again, here I
would love to hear what other insights/sources
are involved that may provide new insights to
those more familiar to CHAT but not so much
with CC and Delta theory.
behalf of mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: 18 March 2016 02:39
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Article for Discussion
We thought it appropriate to put up for
discussion the paper by Roland
Tharp and Cliff O'Donnell from the most
recent issue of MCA. Roland wanted
to stimulate discussion among what he and
Cliff saw as people with a strong
family resemblance. He passed away before this
part of the discussion could
Roland and Cliff argue for the mutual
relevance of Cultural Community
Psychology and Vygotskian inspired research in
the approach referred to
often in these pages as CHAT, not only because
it is an acronym for
cultural-historical activity theory, but
because we have a tradition of
chatting here about the ideas in papers that
sample our different interests.
In this case, Cliff is intending to send this
message and an invitation to
people from Community Psychology to join in.
May it be celebratory of
Roland's long life seeking to promote growth
get your copy at
Enjoy, and of course, send along to others you
think might be interested.
Its legal, free, above board, and, hopefully,
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a
natural science with an object
that creates history. Ernst Boesch
Clifford R. O'Donnell, Ph.D.
Past-President, Society for Community Research and
Action (APA Division 27)
University of Hawai‘i
Department of Psychology
2530 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602