Re: [xmca] Papers for discussion: HIV, interventions and activity theory

From: Mary van der Riet <VanDerRiet who-is-at>
Date: Tue Oct 14 2008 - 06:07:51 PDT

Hi all
I would like to raise the question asked in both of my papers presented
at ISCAR (and referred to by Mike below), about the possibilities of
intervention in social problems - such as an epidemic. This is also
partly in response to Steve Gabosch's post (My Iscar), and an off-list
discussion I have been having.

CHAT (and the ATriangle) really has helped me to understand some of the
dynamics around individual responses to HIV. They have, as Steve says,
‘methodological power’.

The most common response to me research topic is ‘What do you say
about interventions?’ I don’t think there is an easy answer to
this. There is perhaps not even ‘an’ answer to this question. My
second paper reflected on the implementation of a ‘social
mobilisation’ process in the same community referred to in the first
paper. I perhaps need to provide some background on the idea of
‘social mobilisation’ as we used it. Some of my colleagues (in
an organisation called CADRE) had funding from Save the Children to
pilot a ‘social mobilisation’ process. The idea was conceived by
Save the Children and was in response to the dominant
‘individualistic’ orientation of most HIV and AIDS interventions.
The phrase was not theorised deeply by us and because of time pressure
we did not look at literature on other ‘social mobilisation’
processes - which perhaps we should have (and I think that social
mobilisation in the Marxist sense that Steve refers to is perhaps what
the Treatment Action Campaign has been doing ito advocating and
mobilizing for better policies on HIV treatment and access to
medication - perhaps a question is what is ‘political’ action in
trying to achieve behaviour change as opposed to policy change?, and how
does this relate to 'individual' level change?)

After being given the brief by Save the Children, we operationalised
it in our own terms (the report is available on - Making
HIV/AIDS our problem: Young people and the development challenge in
South Africa, 2002). The initial premise was that this was a context
with a high rate of risky sexual practices, and it was a context in
which HIV was stigmatized, silenced and ‘othered’. The aim became:
how can we, firstly, understand and, secondly, influence the
community’s ‘response’ to HIV and AIDS to that the broader
context of their ‘individual activity’ could change. The assumption
was that this would set the conditions for individual change. However,
it wasn’t really an intervention and implementing the process was not
based on a CHAT analysis, so my reflection in the paper is really
applying CHAT after the fact. It also had slightly different goals to
what might have been addressed if the research data had been followed
through. The social mobilisation process focused on the group’s
‘response’ to HIV in
a very broad sense (in part to address stigmatisation), and this
broadness, I think, meant that very limited ‘changes’ resulted from
the process.

I think that the degree of interest on the part of residents of this
particular area in the research process and in the social mobilisation
 process suggests that it might be possible to set up a process of
critical reflection through a ‘Change Laboratory’ process in an
‘open’ setting (ie not an organizational setting). This is what
I would like
 to do once my phd process is finished and this might be able to
generate some ‘solutions’ to the very huge problem of HIV/AIDS. One
of the useful things about the research context is that there is some
degree of ‘coherence’ amongst the village residents and between the
villages themselves. However, the research process took place a few
years ago
and there have been changes since then. And I am still learning about
the ‘change lab’ process and would need to raise a team of people to
engage in something like this, but its something I am thinking about.

so, how does one and how can one make 'changes' in society happen to
the degree that one needs in the HIV/AIDS pandemic (which the UNAIDS
Report 2008 says is on the rise in Britain, Russia, China, Germany,
Ukraine and Indonesia)?


Mary van der Riet; School of Psychology; University of KwaZulu-Natal
Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209

tel: 033 260 6163; fax: 033 2605809

>>> "Mike Cole" <> 2008/10/07 08:44 PM >>>
We have contacted Taylor and Francis to get the new "arrticle for
discussion" available as a pdf file on their
MCA page. Meantime, we have these papers for discussion that one or
of you has asked to discuss.
Discuss away!!



*Race and Language as Capital in School: A Sociological Template for
Language Education Reform
* <> Allan

Yrjö Engeström, University of Helsinki

*CHAT and HIV/AIDS: An activity system analysis of a lack of behaviour
Mary van der Riet
*Activity Theory and reconceptualising HIV/AIDS
Mary van der Riet
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