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Re: [xmca] leading activity related question

This is very useful, Jay, and worthy of much more discussion. in time?

On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 9:01 PM, Jay Lemke <jalemke@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> Hi, Bill and all --
> The best discussion of systems vs structures that I know, and which
> influenced some of my early usage is in Anthony Wilden's book of more or
> less that title. He in turn, and me a bit later, took up Roman Jakobson's
> and others' linguistically-based Structuralist distinction: system refers
> to paradigmatic relations (A or B), and structure refers to syntagmatic
> relations (A and then B). These glosses are over-simplified but give the
> flavor. So {amo, amas, amat; amamus, amatis, amant} (Latin verb) is a
> paradigm and a system. While "agricola nautam amat" ( farmer-nom.
> sailor-acc. loves, i.e. the farmer loves the sailor) is a grammatical
> structure (a clause). A structure tells you how elements filling different
> functions(subject-object-verb or agent-patient-process) get organized
> within the same larger whole. A system tells you what alternative elements
> are available to fill a given functional slot in a structure.
> Early on I generalized this notion to action-structures or
> activity-structures, what might be called action schemas in traditional
> cognitive theory (except for me they were not cognitive; they were socially
> recognizable patterns of action, or action genres; cf. Bakhtin on speech
> genres).
> An activity-system, ala Engestrom or other CHAT models, is not a
> paradigmatic system, however. It is rather a network of functional
> interrelationships among (Activity) Subjects, Objects, Mediators, and
> various sorts of socio-cultural contexts (norms, communities, divisions of
> labor): taken as a whole, so it can then be related to other
> activity-systems. It is more a structure in the Jakobson sense than a
> system (or a meta-structure, a sort of generator of culturally possible
> action-sequences). But it seems intended more for analysis than for
> synthesis or generation; it's not designed to tell you all the sorts of
> things people might do, but to help you analyze the various elements that
> presumably went into what they did.
> Yrjo, I believe, does try to use activity systems more generatively to
> help people imagine alternative possibilities, but I believe that requires
> getting at possible contradictions within and between elements of
> activity-systems. I believe Wilden discusses the dialectics of systems and
> structures, i.e. what happens when we allow internal tensions and
> contradictions rather than stable, internally consistent wholes.
> (Of course the background influence of Chomsky lies in much of this as
> well, since his generative program was meant to synthesize structure and
> system in linguistics, as Halliday's program was meant to put system first
> where historically linguistics had put structure first.)
> Today I tend to use "system" in the sense of complex, dynamical
> material-semiotic system (dynamically interdependent processes and the
> stuff involved in those processes). I use "structure" usually in the more
> traditional Jakobson sense, for an ordered organization of functionally
> distinct elements (e.g. "genre structure" "action structure" aka "activity
> structure") where the organization is often sequential or spatial (or both).
> I hope that's more than you wanted to know! :-)
> JAY.
> jalemke@ucsd.edu
> Senior Research Scientist
> Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
> Adjunct Full Professor, Department of Communication
> University of California - San Diego
> 9500 Gilman Drive
> La Jolla, California 92093-0506
> New Website: www.jaylemke.com
> On Feb 2, 2013, at 3:52 PM, mike cole wrote:
> Hmmm, Bill. I need to go back and re-read the papers to see if our use of
> structure rather than system is anything more than loose talk. I will also
> cc Jay to alert him to the question.
> There are A LOT of entries at xmca under "leading activity." Here is an
> example where making more systematic use of what has been gathered earlier
> in systematic fashion would be useful. (working on it...).
> mike
> On Sat, Feb 2, 2013 at 1:54 PM, Barowy, William <barowy@lesley.edu> wrote:
>> Thanks for the paper, Mike.  You made the point that educators conflated
>> zopeds with scaffolding back then in 1984 and I still see that happening
>> today.
>> But more importantly, you use the phrase "activity structures" rather
>> than "activity systems" in the section on work activity.  I know how YE
>> defines the latter an your use of "structures" indicates a difference,
>> perhaps like how Lemke defined activity structures in his early work --
>> would you comment on your view of the contrast between structures and
>> systems?
>> ---
>> William Barowy, Ph. D.
>> Associate Professor,
>> Lesley University
>> 29 Everett Street,
>> Cambridge, MA 02138-2790
>> http://bill.barowy.net/
>> "I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how
>> to do it."
>> --Pablo Picasso
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