Re: [xmca] more questions about Sawchuk and Stetsenko article: whose sociology???

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Wed Dec 10 2008 - 14:40:41 PST

Hi harry-

Whew, lots of threads spinning at once and this is finals week here.
1. We have had a good deal of discussion of the social situation of
development here in prior months and it has left me quite confused, as
confused as I get when people talk about context. I *think* the proper
interpretation of context here (in this context!) is "that which weaves
together" and not "that which surrounds." I hope so. Otherwise, there you
have the kid in the context-as-container, not as constituent of the context.

2. I like the idea of using David's discursive psych approach to linking
macro and micro and look forward to seeing it in print and'or on youtube.

3. If a paper was attached, I did not get it. I'll check xmca at this end
when your note should appear, but if perchance you can check and re-send,
that would be helpful if it was passed over.


PS-- Could you send Saljo ref please?

On Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 1:12 AM, Harry Daniels <> wrote:

> Hi Mike
> Agreed but - to paraphrase Roger Saljo -- LSV did not allow us to 'see' the
> context (situation of development) in the talk.
> Recent work we have been doing with David Middleton has been exploring the
> ways that using Bernstien's analytical framework together with an analysis
> of communicative action can engage with the ways in which sequential and
> contingent strands of talk are shaped by the institutional formations in
> which they occur and which are shaped by them. This was used to analyse data
> from helsinki style DWR interventions over a year
> Bernstien's later work did not use IQ that was much earlier
> I like the idea of bringing together something on 'visually available
> workings of structure on action'
> Best
> harry
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Mike Cole []
> *Sent:* 09 December 2008 16:24
> *To:* Harry Daniels
> *Cc:*; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; Peter
> Sawchuk; Stetsenko, Anna
> *Subject:* Re: [xmca] more questions about Sawchuk and Stetsenko article:
> whose sociology???
> Great to hear from you, Harry.
> Isn't "providing a description of micro-level processes exactly what LSV
> set out to do when he and his colleagues sought to formulate "psychologies
> own capital."?
> And is Bernstein really dealing with the proper tools when he uses IQ test
> measures and such as indices of the projection of the macro onto the micro?
> I far prefer your analysis of classroom drawings. In fact, it might be
> interesting
> to pull together a set of articles that do, in fact, make contributions to
> the CHAT project that do not leave behind the visually available workins of
> structure on action.
> mike
> On Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 3:35 AM, Harry Daniels <> wrote:
>> Hi
>> My eyes were drawn to this paper as soon as I opened the latest MCA - I
>> think it sets up the tension between theories of social action and enactment
>> very well -- it is a very helpful contribution.
>> The Giddens 'in the middle' approach still fails to pull off the trick at
>> a methodological level for me as well. As Mike notes i still find the later
>> Bernstein helpful
>> A crucial problem of theoretical Marxism is the inability of the theory to
>> provide descriptions of micro level processes, except by projecting macro
>> level concepts on to the micro level unmediated by intervening concepts
>> though which the micro can be both uniquely described and related to the
>> macro level. Marxist theory can provide the orientation and the
>> conditions the micro language must satisfy if it is to be "legitimate". Thus
>> such a language must be materialist, not idealist, dialectic in method and
>> its principles of development and change must resonate with Marxist
>> principles. (Bernstein, 1993, p. xv)
>> his project was as follows
>> The substantive issue of the theory is to explicate the processes whereby
>> a given distribution of power and principles of control are translated into
>> specialised principles of communication differentially, and often unequally,
>> distributed to social groups/classes. And how such an unequal distribution
>> of forms of communication, initially (but not necessarily terminally) shapes
>> the formation of consciousness of members of these groups/classes in such a
>> way as to relay both opposition and change. The critical issue is *the
>> translation of power and control into principles of communication which
>> become (successful or otherwise) their carriers or relays.* (Bernstein,
>> 2000, p. 91)**
>> I also find Keith Sawyer's paper helpful - see attached
>> best
>> Harry
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* Mike Cole []
>> *Sent:* 09 December 2008 04:01
>> *To:*; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> *Cc:* Harry Daniels; Peter Sawchuk; Stetsenko, Anna
>> *Subject:* Re: [xmca] more questions about Sawchuk and Stetsenko article:
>> whose sociology???
>> Hi Paul-- I am among those who are convinced that LSV and his
>> colleagues were in fact avid supporters
>> of the revolution in Russia. Very I also believe that Jaan and Rene were
>> dead wrong that the "troika" and "pyatorka" were post hoc myths. But your
>> note brings back over threshold my questions about the relation of their
>> scholarship to their activism (I would use the term, bolshevism, but I am
>> pretty sure that Luria was a kind of tolstoyan reformist when he met LSV and
>> have little idea about Leontiev's early history in this regard). Psychology
>> of Art, chapter 1 is the earliest source I know of in LSV's work where his
>> links to Marx are made crystal clear, but maybe pedagogical psych was
>> written earlier, Anna would know, and I hope she enlightens on this score,
>> or some ones of our other Russian psych history buffs on xmca.
>> Looking back, we can say that they advocated something like
>> "transformative collective activity" as their common program. But can we see
>> this in work printed before, say, 1929, when Stalinism began to make itself
>> felt? In the three articles printed in English in J of Genetic Psych is this
>> program made clear? They were all written by about 1930. These aspirations
>> seem crystal clear in various of their undertakings (LSV at the inst of
>> defectology, ARL in his work with homeless orphans), but where is it in
>> their academic, empirical work? (Note, I am not saying it is not there, but
>> asking, where is it?). The Vygotsky/Sakharov research
>> that Paula has brought back to our attention? Leontiev's work on mediated
>> memory? Luria's attempt to solve the riddle of knowing what someone else is
>> thinking through the combined motor method?
>> Another BIG issue you touch on is an effort to unite CHAT theorists within
>> any modern discipline. Sociology and psychology without anthropology,
>> linguistics, aesthetics, evolutionary biology? How could it be done? I kinda
>> like Communication as a home base precisely because joint mediated activity
>> is its central concept and is possible to bring all the different fragmented
>> parts of late 19th century humane sciences back together, sort of.
>> I think these issues are worth considering because it is linked to the
>> idea of current research in their tradition (I would call THAT tradition
>> canonical, actually, not the other way around.... a perspectival shift owing
>> to age and historical location probably). Vygotsky's work with retarded
>> kids, work with the blind-deaf, in preschools, and of course the brain
>> damaged, were all hallmarks of the work these people did. Among whom, and
>> for what ends, are people in this tradititon now working?
>> Not incidently, I think the prior writings of Harry Daniels about
>> Bernstein are of relevance here. Not sure where has disappeared to, perhaps
>> taking in the Bath(s)? :-)) I'll cc him.
>> I think we all owe Anna and Peter a debt of gratitude for opening up these
>> important issues. But it sure would be nice to see them discussed in a way
>> where a positive program of transformative collaborative
>> activity emerged.
>> Or, Paul, are you saying it can't happen under capitalism, so why bother?
>> mike
>> of socio-cultural development) would no longer disfigure human
>>> personality. Sadly, as S&S make clear in the article, this inspiration of
>>> the early years of the Russian Revolution did not survive and flourish.
>>> The authors point to three key elements of the CHAT tradition and use
>>> them to situate the sample of sociologists they choose to discuss:
>>> a)material production,, 2) intersubjective exchange, 3) subjectivity. It's
>>> not at all clear to me that these glosses capture the direction of a
>>> "psychology of liberation" or that they provide a useful triangulation for
>>> sociological theory.
>>> The authors point out that the goal of exploring how particular social
>>> structures, with their power constellations and systems of privilege shape
>>> development has not typically been pursued within CHAT. Yes, yes, and again
>>> yes. There is some kind of fanciful dream that the Vygotskian lineage can
>>> develop its original aim within capitalist society and consequently we see
>>> multiple "reinterpretations" by academic mega-stars whose names will surely
>>> be forgotten in a few decades, as the name of those who won prizes in Paris
>>> while Van Gogh suffered in anonymity.
>>> But the article didn't live up to my hopes for several reasons.
>>> The Review of Sociological Theory was really spotty, arbitrarily
>>> selective. For example:
>>> Durkheim: social facts, what about Mauss? Was Durkheim a sociologist or
>>> an anthropologist? Do these disciplinary distinctions matter. If so, it
>>> wasn't explained why? If not, what about the entire tradition of
>>> anthropological theories about culture and society?
>>> Social Action v. Theories of Enactment.
>>> Weber. - summary of Parsons somewhat strange, ignorying Parson's four
>>> structural levels etc.
>>> Garfinkel, ethnomethodology, what about Berger and Luckman?
>>> Attempts at integration of social action and enactment, but the dismissal
>>> of Bourdieu really weird, inexcusable? Giddens is really both derivative
>>> of and much less influential than Bourdieu. Not to mention his sychophantic
>>> brown-nosing in the Blair administration in contrast to Bourdieu's active
>>> opposition to the depredations of global capitalism. Furthermore, unlike
>>> Bourdieu, he did not carry out important on-the-ground research comparable
>>> to Bourdieu's "Distinction" or the ground-breaking Kabyle research—
>>> Furthermore, in whose scheme of things if Judith Butler (though dismissed)
>>> considered an important sociological theorist – why not other feminist or
>>> queer theorists, not to mention that she is also someone who has not
>>> published significant primary research; in this vein, where are Zizek, La
>>> Clau, Mouffe, and others who attempt a post-modern integration (is it
>>> "deconstruction" or disintegration we're talking about here)?
>>> Really, Gramsci has a lot more to offer than Giddens, etc.
>>> Discussion of Schutz very interesting but to say he was "heavily
>>> influenced by Husserl" ignores the fact that he was Husserl's student and
>>> that most of Schutz's most important ideas can be found in Husserl's "Ideas
>>> II". Factual errors: Schutz's horizons of temporality are not "past now",
>>> "now" and "future now" but "ancestors", "contemporaries", and "descendants
>>> which also also derive from Husserl's "retention", "present", and
>>> "protention". ". The concepts of "past now", "now" and "future now" don't
>>> make any sense and their very incoherence was criticized way back in 1960 by
>>> Friedrich Kummel, nor can such glosses deal with the fundamental problem of
>>> phenomenology or any serious investigation of temporality: i.e., the
>>> incompatibility of duration (within which the so-called NOW happens) and
>>> succession . All talk about "time scales" here on xmca throughout thee
>>> years and elsewhere
>>> simply overlooks "duration"d i.e., – Husserl's "melody" – and hence can
>>> provide no real understanding of the rrelationship between meaning and
>>> existence which is a central issue in CHAT.
>>> And what about the elephant in the living room: Jurgen Habermas, not to
>>> mention various other giraffes and rhinocerii roaming the house, such as
>>> G.H. Mead (obviously key to all that followed in the Garfinkel tradition),
>>> or Thomas Merton, C. Wright Mills, and others. This all goes to the
>>> arbitrariness and spottiness of the discussion of sociological theory.
>>> Finally, how does the placement of the arbitarily selected sociologists
>>> into a triangle whose nodes are similarly arbitrary lead to a realization of
>>> Marx's 11th Thesis on Feuerbach that Vygotsky's psychology and the best of
>>> CHAT tradition have sought? Doesn't it just lead to more academic
>>> commodities that don't lead to social transformation but to another form of
>>> consumption.
>>> Wishing everyone the best of the Holiday Season!
>>> Paul Dillon
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
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Received on Wed Dec 10 14:41:22 2008

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