Re: [xmca] definition of 'activity'

From: Mary K. Bryson (
Date: Sun Jan 08 2006 - 13:42:28 PST

On 1/7/06 8:27 PM, "Mike Cole" <> wrote:

> A good statement of general tenets of this approach is
>>> provided by Engeström, who writes that an activity system,
>>> integrates the subject, the object, and the instruments (material tools
>> as
>>> well as signs and symbols) into a unified whole.
>>> An activity system incorporates both the object-oriented productive
>> aspect
>>> and the person-oriented communicative aspect of human conduct.

I was thinking about this very thing this morning, reading the definition of
Activity Theory on wikipedia... And it occurred to me as I presented one of
the many variants of the triangle to the students in my brand new
sociocultural theory class, that there is an odd disconnect between activity
theory, and its attendant notions of goal-directed actions and the
importance of objects, and object-relations theory, and its critical focus
on the psychological and constitutive value of objects. Maybe there is some
really well known piece of work out there that brings these two threads
together, but if there is -- (a) I don't know what it is (not surprizing)
and (b) I would love to read it, so please tell me about it.

The affective and psychic -- that is, subjectivity -- pieces of activity
theory seem really short-sighted and overly rational, which is where
object-relations seems to have a lot to offer, and yet rarely be cited by

Sunday musings,

Mary (Happy New Year)
PS> I was going to propose to moderate/coordinate a discussion of a reading
in February, but I think with the generous offer of participation by Mike in
his mediational theories course, that perhaps I should hold off until May or

xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Feb 01 2006 - 01:00:09 PST