Re: [xmca] From Kevin's paper to internal tension and conflict in activity systems

From: O'Connor, Kevin (
Date: Tue Jul 25 2006 - 10:42:22 PDT

Thanks for the citations, and for sending Yrjo's paper. That paper is
actually one that I am familiar with, and in fact it has to some extent
informed an article that I'm currently revising in which the same Tech
students are flexibly appropriating a discursive genre in the service of
their own emerging goals. One of the things I like about Yrjo's paper is
how he goes from the description of specific scenes of the story to unpack
the tensions involved in the organization of the characters' actions, and
the developmental consequences. Many of these tensions, and the development
that results, are unpredictable until the scenes are closely analyzed. I
see this as in many ways similar to what I was doing in the discussion of
the videoconference and the self-introductions.

Mike writes that "someone wanting to use a CHAT instead of a COPS position
would point to the analytic categories that constitute an activity system as
a source of greater specification that tells you where it might be
interesting to look." I agree that the analytic categories are more
developed in CHAT than in the CoP perspective thus far, and see these as
powerful analytic resources. (And I certainly don't want to position myself
in opposition to CHAT!) What I'm still wondering is whether analysis might
be somewhat constrained or circumscribed if we were to start from activity
systems (or communities of practice), as opposed to starting from situated
interaction and seeing how various indexical potentials are brought into
interaction and with what consequences.

I'll take a look at some of the other articles you cited, bb - I'd also be
interested in seeing your work that mike mentioned, if it's available.


On 7/25/06 10:09 AM, "bb" <> wrote:

> Hi Kevin,
> In reply to your question, here is something both short and long. On my hard
> drive I've found an article by Engestrom that seems to go in the right
> direction -- I actually dislike doing this because its really not a very
> cohesive and personal response to you, but on the other hand the article seems
> highly relevant and, having upgraded my workstation OS to fedora core 5,
> getting it to talk correctly to an exchange server is taking up unplanned
> time.
> Yrjo's work on tensions in multiple systems of activity is in his Learning by
> Expanding, located somewhere on the MCA/lchc web site. Several years ago I
> did a study which used his approach of historical analysis of multiple
> systems, recognizing tensions in and between them to look at the simaltaneous
> development of a person and her contexts. Peter Smagorinsky has a good
> article on a student becoming a teacher, which uses chat, but not, as I
> recall, with multiple systems. Peter's or Yrjo's article might be a good
> place to extend discussion of the issues I think you raise in your paper,
> although neither has the same focus on language that your paper has. But then
> Gordon Wells has a couple articles on activity systems and language, which
> might bridge the gap.
> bb
> bb
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