Re: [xmca] Billet's paper

From: bb (
Date: Fri Oct 13 2006 - 13:52:32 PDT

It would seem that Billet thinks there is no individual agency in activity theory? i.e.

"However, accounts such as situated cognition, distributed cognition, activity systems
(Engeström, 1993), and communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991) run the risk of privileging
situational determinism, at a cost to considerations of individual agency and broader social
and cultural influences." (p61)

I don't see this at all in Engeström's writing. But then I find Billet's use of the term Activity to be rather sloppy, including a reference made to Newell and Simon. And I'm having more trouble with Billet's wording. I just cannot parse the following:

"So, rather than being reciprocal, these relations are relational." (p. 61) ????

It's almost like reading computer-generated text. Maybe it is? Anyway, I have to drop out of this discussion until next week. My processor will be offline so I won't be able to generate any markov chains. Hence, no sentences. Especially no complex clauses about reciprocal relations.


 -------------- Original message ----------------------
> Billett writes on pg. 62, "Humans appear to have the capacity for
> reflective self-evaluation manifested in second-order desires. These
> desires are those shaped over time, as in subjectivities. So, rather that
> merely being driven by external pressures and sources, individuals have the
> capacity to be reflective and evaluative about their societal subjugation.
> . ." I take this to mean that people can AT TIMES choose what cultural or
> historical parameter have influence over them and for Billett one place
> where this occurs is in the workplace. It is not that the individual is in
> conflict with the cultural-historical order of the workplace but rather the
> individual can make choices about how the culture of the workplace
> influences individual worker's traits. I do not find this much different
> than the studies conducted by Sylvia Scribner and presented in the
> January/April 1984 volume of the "Laboraty of Comparative Human Cognition"
> newletter. On page 5 of the above cited newsletter she writes,
> "Occupational responsibilities in the dairy included many problem solving
> tasks whose performance features differed from those represented in
> laboratory models. These tasks were embedded in larger sequences of
> activities whose purposes they served. Many occurred in settings in which
> modes of solution were constrained, not only by the internal structure of
> the problem domain, but by the objective, contextual aspects of the
> situations in which the problem arose. And in many, the process of
> arriving at a solution involved a continuing and dynamic interaction
> between the problem-solver and the world."
> what do others think?
> eric
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