[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] Current edition of Theory & Psychology

Hi Andy.

While I believe Mike et al's paper is outstanding and inspiring, I do
not see an analysis of the macro structures that shape that kind of

What I miss from accounts of procedures is a language of description
of the general context in which the intervention or mutual
appropriation is going to be carried out. Again, the "context" is
given almost for granted and assumed to be constant.

When some institution in Finland gives funding to a researcher to get
another organisation sorted out by means of an intervention it is
proof of the kind of research and consultancy culture Finland has
developed over decades. Where does the power to implement the right
intervention come from. It does not come from from the internal
"contradictions" of the activity system but from a culture that is
able to recognise the values of such an implementation, a research
culture embedded in political and social systems that legitimate those
interventions. In other words, a culture that is able to grasp and
solve contradictions creatively before they reach a political
standstill or social crisis. So here you have the researcher taking a
vantage point. Overall, this reminds me of the business consultancy
that is commissioned by top authorities of a given industry. You need
some form of umbrella authority that paves the way to recognising the
intervention as valid (you need a credible authority).

In Mike's case, the power comes from the implicit recognition of
social bankruptcy. That is a case which better resembles many
situations where neoliberalism and public policy have failed big time,
and therefore I see it has the chance to be applied in many more
contexts than the plain intervention depicted in the papers written by
Engestrom and his colleagues. The researcher cannot take a vantage
point but agents are willing to give a try just because everything
else has failed.

I have seen Japanese researchers trying to implement interventions
shaped by the principles given by Yrjo. They fail again and again not
because they do not apply those principles or fail to use the right
unit of analysis but because their mandate is ridiculously limited and
they lack a principle of authority (are you able to change the
educational system or even the culture of one particular school with
one single case study that took months to arrange against all odds,
despite the fierce opposition from agents involved?). In such a
context, intervention is seen as a technical tool or method, not as a
philosophical principle or methodology. Where you can implement mutual
appropriation in Japan? Well in communities in Fukushima that have
witnessed their government's failure in dealing with the nuclear
crisis and no longer trust it.

The issue of the unconscious. I believe the notion of subject in CHAT
is that the subject emerges after taking position by means of an
attempt in appropriating cultural tools: the processs of objectivation
of the subject and subjetivation of the object. But mastery is not
rational. Subjects use words before they know their meaning.
Pseudoconcepts are used before truly concepts are formed. Complete
sets of conceptual systems are mastered before one has a clear idea of
what those systems are for or their affordances. How do we deal with
implicit semiotic mediation in the intervention? The unconscious is
underneath the tension between sense and meaning. The sign ties,
establishes relations, but also produces breaks and disjoints.



On 11 November 2011 08:57, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> That's a very interesting series of points, Arturo!
> Could I just ask you to elaborate a little on what you meant by "the
> unconscious in sign-making" and "the problem of fetishism of the sign."
> I guess that you are right that in almost any social context (the US
> included I suspect), the kind of project that Mike writes about can only be
> implemented by surruptitiously moving the goal posts set by the recognised
> authorities, by a kind of subversion, making use of openings created by
> manifest social crisis.
> As I'm sure you know, I am in agreement with your critique of the failure to
> satisfactorily "marry" psychological concepts with sociological concepts, in
> CHAT or anywhere else for that matter. But doesn't the kind of project Mike
> is talking about, where goals are immanent in the project itself, and the
> project is thoroughly and explicitly collaborative, go some way to
> addressing this problem?
> Andy
> Arturo Escandon wrote:
>> Just wanted to point out that there are places where you cannot even
>> think of implementing a simple plain standard design experiment, let
>> alone an ad-hoc intervention because educational settings and
>> institutions are thought to be mere knowledge
>> reproduction-distribution centers. Research is the job of the Ministry
>> of Education. "Joint activity"? What on Earth is that in Japan except
>> the illusion of freedom framed under top-down cosmological structure.
>> I am afraid that most of the cases depicted in the journal are a
>> reproduction of the cultural conditions existing in few settings, in
>> few communities, in a handful of countries. Am I able to implement an
>> intervention or mutual appropriation in the Japanese educational
>> context? No. Am I able to do it in "local communities", yes, but under
>> considerable restrictions. However, I am guessing that the most
>> effective interventions in local communities spring from social
>> crisis, not from planned activity, that is, some sort of punctuated
>> equilibrium in which the community changes or perish.
>> I am very curious about (1) how the structural constraints and
>> affordances of organisations themselves shape those mutual
>> appropriations and how we can account for them; (2) how the mediating
>> means themselves are unequally distributed (knowledge differential):
>> in order to bridge the differences established by the lack of a common
>> repertoire of meanings you have to engage in meaning making, creating
>> in fact a new differential; (3) the unconscious in sign-making or
>> using activity. Educational activity brings consciousness at the
>> expense of bringing unconsciousness as well. I have not read a single
>> decisive work addressing the problem of fetishism of the sign, on
>> which a theory of the uncosciousness could be integrated into CHAT,
>> except for works that deal with the problem of "the ideal".
>> Seeger asks the right questions but I believe there is much more out
>> there about ways of marriaging psychology and sociology to give a
>> better account of agency. At the end, the issues raised by Sawyer are
>> still relevant: CHAT keeps operating with a process and methodological
>> ontology whereby the individual and the social are inseparable but
>> does not provide a clear cut language of description of how the social
>> structure shapes activity or, to put it in Seeger's terms, how power
>> shapes discourse (and consciousness and identy).
>> Best
>> Arturo
>> On 10 November 2011 23:41, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>> The current edition of Theory & Psychology looks very special. I admit I
>>> have at this stage only actually read the article by Mike Cole, Robert
>>> Lecusay and Deborah Downing-Wilson, but it is a special issue on CHAT and
>>> interventionist methodology, with articles by a number of people from
>>> Yrjo
>>> Engestrom's CRADLE and also Falk Seeger, who is guest editing the Special
>>> Issue of MCA on Emotions.
>>> Mike's article elaborates on what the participants call a "mutual
>>> appropriation" approach to developing theory and practice. Instead of
>>> implementing a project design and then modifying it in the light of the
>>> reseacher's experience, the researchers go in to a local community with
>>> very
>>> open ended ideas about how and what they want to achieve, and engage with
>>> their community partner, learn about their (the partner's) project, offer
>>> assistance and resources and share knowledge and objectives and ....
>>> mutually appropriate. The article describes the results of a specific
>>> project which is an exemplar of "mutual appropriation" which has grown
>>> out
>>> of the 5thD after-school programs which LCHC began in the 1980s.
>>> The article is actually very moving. I personally think that this kind of
>>> work is tackling the main problem in front of us cultural-historical
>>> cultural psychology people today. If you don't subscribe to Theory &
>>> Psychology, I don't know how you can get to read the paper. Maybe someone
>>> has a solution there. But it is a must read. I will read the remaining
>>> articles in the special issue, but this is a real high.
>>> Andy
>>> --
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>> Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
>>> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>>> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
>>> __________________________________________
>>> _____
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
xmca mailing list