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Re: [xmca] Rom Harre quote on acts and activity

I agree about the ideal of "both/and" approaches.  However, when I see an
account such as Rom Harre wrote that explores the historical roots of a
particular movement such as "biolgical determinism" or "radical
individualism" it helps me to situate particular discourse traditions and
locate the historical evolution of the concepts within particular
sociocultural traditions.
This is also why I wanted to read "The Sociocultural Turn in Psychology" so
I could differentiate historically the "discursive", dialogical",
hermeneutical"', and "activity" approches as particular historical
traditions.  By comparing and contrasting the various accounts [and seeing
similarities and contrasts] I'm able to attempt to coordinate multiple
perspectives, and ideally be able to imaginally construct linkages between
the various historical traditions and thereby develop a deeper appreciation
of the common themes within the various traditions.
Mike, your response, and your bringing  Tolman into the conversation  is
exactly the spirit in which I post these either/or reflections. I see them
as steps in a process of differentiation of ideas as a first step towards a
new synthesis. I also want to emphasize that on CHAT I recognize discursive,
dialogical, and hermeneutical themes being engaged in lively debate with
activity theory.  However, I am often confused as I try to differentiate
between the approaches and therefore I appreciate articles which explicitly
compare and contrast alternative perspectives on a common theme.

I plan on reading the Tolman article in the next few days in the same spirit
of inquiry as conversation.


On Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 4:40 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

> Interesting, Larry-
>     It would be interesting to gather up all the various attempts to
> explicate the relationship between cultural-historical, activity centered
> theories and socio-cultural studies theories. There have been a lot!
>     My personal preference is to work out the intricacies of an approach in
> which the attempt is to understand the AND/BOTH of the two positions
> you/Harre outline, not the either or of them.
>     To pick up on just one point, which is discussed in the Tolman article
> I sent around: It is a tenet of AT that action and activity are of
> different
> orders/levels of scale, and that actions could be parts of other
> activities.
> Here is how Tolman summarized the issues (this is only a fragments, as is
> Larry's note); perhaps more fragments will emerge here.
> So, Tolman writes:
> [A human being’s] sense of action lies not in the action itself but in his
> r
> elation to other members of the group. As Leont'ev argues (in his thought
> experiment example of primal human hunting):
> The separation of an action necessarily presupposes the possibility of the
> active subject's
> psychic reflection of the relation between the objective motive [getting
> food] and the object
> of the action [driving it away]. ... [T]he beater's action is possible
> *onl*
> *y *on condition
> of his reflecting the link between the expected result of the action
> performed
> by him and
> the end result of the hunt as a whole.... (1959/1981, p. 212)
> The emergence of action as a coordinated part of social activity performed
> by an individual must be accompanied by a shared meaning of the
> action that is reflected consciously by the actor. This is reflected in the
> fact (among others) that the roles of beater and bagger in the hunt are in
> principle interchangeable. The role of each participant must be decided
> beforehand. One participant may prove to be better in one role than another
> and the assigner of roles may come to appear fixed, but this does
> not affect the underlying interchangeability. Although the situation is
> immensely more complicated in our own society by the dependence of
> essential actions on training and education, the underlying principle
> remains
> the same.
> Thus the necessary, conscious division of labor in human society is the
> most obvious indicator of the individual human's *s**o**ciet**a**l *nature.
> The
> individual
> is truly human *only *in society. Indeed, a still stronger conclusion
> can be argued: that human individuality itself is achievable only in
> society
> .
> The *a**bstra**ct *individual of bourgeois individualism is a figment of
> the
> ideological
> Imagination.
> There are also lots of ways of approaching the notion of context, as you
> note, Larry. What are some others that we ought to put in dialog here?
> The one Tolman is contrasting to the position above is America's dominant
> view of contextualism in development, Richard Lerner, and his colleagues.
> In particular, i wonder what sort of a contrasting notion of context might
> arise within the framework that Harre put in discussion with CHAT?
> mike
>  On Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 8:53 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > Andy, this is a continuation of your thread on reading Kirschner and
> > Martin's edited book.  Mike and Natalia Gajdamaschko elaborated a
> > particular
> > account of the term "context".
> > My copy of the book "The Sociocultural Turn in Psychology" recently
> arrived
> > in the mail and I've just read Rom Harre's article "Public Sources of the
> > Personal Mind" and his perspective on persons in context within
> > developmental psychology.
> > He suggests that historically there have been  two distinct movements
> > within
> > sociocultural accounts of developmental psychology.
> >
> > 1) A movement that could be called "psychologists against biological
> > determinism".  The central question within this movement is "Whence come
> > our
> > cognitive skills, emotional propensities, and repertoires of personality
> > displays?"  There are two kinds of constraints on the kinds of minds that
> > Vygotskian processes can induce in a human being. The first constraint is
> > that the embodied human brain has an inherited architecture.  The other
> > limiting constraint is set by the history of sociocultural contexts.
>  These
> > constraints limit but do NOT determine the person.
> >
> > 2)There is another movement that Harre calls "Psychologists against
> radical
> > individualism"  The central question in this movement is "Are cognitive
> and
> > emotional phenomena ALL and ONLY attributes of individual persons?"
>  Harre
> > points out that the roots of this movement are different from that of the
> > Vygotskian developmentalist school.  This 2nd movement is attempting to
> > "identify a domain of psychological phenomena that are neither patterns
> of
> > large-scale collectivities, such as revolutionary movements, nor
> attributes
> > of individuals such as disloyal thoughts kept to oneself". [Harre
> > references
> > John Shotter as representative of this movement]
> >
> > Harre points out developmental accounts should embrace values and
> normative
> > explanations of persons in contexts. "This means that psychological
> > processes are to be interpreted largely as the result of the management"
> > [and coordination] "of meanings in accordance with the rules and
> > conventions
> > of the relevant practice". Intentionality (meaning) and normativity
> > (conformity to rules and conventions) not cause and affect, need to be
> the
> > FRAMEWORK concepts of psychological studies. This recognizes the
> centrality
> > of the root metaphor of cognition AS CONVERSATION. [discursive]
> >
> > Harre suggegsts persons form identities by following  particular
> normative
> > storylines.  However Harre emphasizes that
> >
> >  "the SAME sequence of actions, for which certain criteria of identity
> can
> > be drawn on, may be the bearer of more than one psychological REALITY.
> > ...Actions and ACTS are not in one to one correspondence. If meanings
> -that
> > is, ACTS - are constitutive of social and psychological REALITY, then the
> > same action sequence may be the bearer of more than one ACT SEQUENCE, and
> > so
> > of more than one social and psychological REALITY".(p.36)
> >
> > I think the above quote is central to Harre's account that psychological
> > processes, though constrained and constituted within  particular situated
> > ACTIVITY,  can generate MULTIPLE ACTS of intentionality [meaning]  The
> > recognition of the interplay between TACIT first order coordination of
> > activity within traditions [which is not reflective but still
> > communicative]
> > and EXPLICIT 2nd order  meaningful ACTS as REFLECTIVE and volitional
> > suggests the "psychological reality" of  persons that emerge within
> > normative sociocultural practices.  The  emergence of this agentic
> capacity
> > to reflectively  ACT within activity  [and not simply react to activity]
> >  is
> > a central developmental dynamic process forming the personal mind.
> > It is the formation of the psychological realm of 2nd order "acts" as
> > volitional, reflective and coordinated [and the perceived
> > relationship between 2nd order ACTS and 1st order tacit activity] that
> > seems
> > to be a central topic  of debate within sociocultural accounts of
> > psychology.
> >
> > Do others agree with the way Rom Harre contrasts  the two historically
> > separate traditions or movements within the emerging discipline of
> > sociocultural psychology? Reducing the person to either biology or
> radical
> > individualism is problematic and sociocultural accounts are challenging
> > these reductive explanations.
> >
> > Larry
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> > xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> >
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