Re: [xmca] Re: Questions

From: Martin Packer (
Date: Sun Oct 16 2005 - 13:27:36 PDT

A man works with a hammer and leather all day, making a pair of shoes. His
interaction with the leather is mediated by the hammer, for sure, and there
are other mediators too. At the end of the day, though, he goes home not
with the shoes, nor with the hammer, but with a few coins that are barely
enough for him to buy something to eat in order to get some sleep and go
back to work the next day.

How are we to understand this? It seems to go beyond the mediation of
activity by artifacts, at least as we usually conceptualize this. Is what
has happened the operation of the rules of collaboration? Is the key to be
found in the division of labor? Do we need some concept such as 'ownership':
the man owns neither the hammer nor the shoes, though they are the product
of his actions. They belong to the person who owns the factory in which he
works. And for sure we need some sense of the ideal - an illusionary world
in the sense that it sure ain't real yet - in terms of which to say, such an
arrangement is unfair and needs to be changed.


On 10/16/05 2:16 PM, "Mike Cole" <> wrote:

> Long ago, Leontiev wrote: With all its varied forms, the human individual's
> activity is a system in the system of social relations. It does not exist
> without these relations.
> many people, myself included at an earlier time, believed that Leontiev did
> not pay suffient attention to social relations and in terms of the way
> activity theory was actually implemented in the USSR I think this is true.
> The emphasis was on production, modes of production, rather than relations
> of production. But "theoretically", I have come to believe, that he and his
> colleagues understood perfectly well that mediated JOINT activity implies
> always a double articulation of subject-non human world with subject-human
> world. It is unfortunate that this gets reduced to subject-subject and
> subject-object relationships. One affordance of Yrjo's expansion of the
> mediational triangle is to represent this double articulation, and multiple
> forms of mediation, in the basic
> abstraction.

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