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RE: [xmca] A question about Lewin & CHAT& Engestrom

I personally have looked in all these areas regarding the theoretical and methodological needs of design programming and building users research. The situation there might be quite different from the fields of human development and education.

Action Research from an activity theory position should be conceived as project-specific research. Research that is intended to bring information for project/design decision-making. As a social scientist, Lewin makes a great conceptual leap to envisage science as a component of engineering (of social situations). However, from the other end of the continuum, from design and engineering practice, it is very easy to see the need for project-specific research. We can see examples of project-specific research in R&D (Research and Development).

I personally use activity theory as a methodological instrument in project-specific research. Activity Theory has assimilated systems thinking and ecological/contextual thinking as well. 

One example of Lewinian thinking operationalized to action-relevant concepts is the behavior setting (Roger Barker). I would also like to mention here Bronfenbrenner for his more courageous introduction of systems thinking. The behavior setting concept is well known in environment and behavior research. However, with my preference to "activity" over "behavior," I am tempted to offer a similar concept -- "activity setting."  I strongly believe that the theoretical apparatus of "activity" has a number of methodological advantages over "behavior."

With kind regards,


Lubomir Popov, Ph.D.
School of Family and Consumer Sciences
American Culture Studies affiliated faculty
309 Johnston Hall,
Bowling Green, Ohio 43403-0059

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of mike cole
Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 9:46 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
Subject: [xmca] A question about Lewin & CHAT& Engestrom

A former colleague sent this comment/question to me and I thought I would pass it along.

I responded that there was a lot of interaction between Lewin, Vygotsky, Luria and ......., but I could not speak for later users of CHAT.

Sort of fyi.

One thought has emerged from my current reading to come up with theories to inform methodology: I am curious as to why CHAT researchers had never seemed to look into Kurt Lewin's Action Research and Field Theory as tools to think about. For example, what I see Engeström is calling "Expansive learning" looks to my eye to be quite close to Lewin's freeze-unfreeze-freeze model, and to this standard change management model, in which we are looking (I think) at a fairly typical model of an object in the world of software products, in which external forces (which I would call activity systems) are interacting with an object that is evolving through the interaction of such systems:

Software installation, tuning, management and upgrade is very much like this. The object mutates in response to its environment, interacting with multiple interactive communities, as customers use the tool and discover new things they wish it would do, or developers think of interesting things that can be done with the tool, in response to an environment of new tools and other developer's objects. The shared object changes in response to those goals (or is dumped--not that this would ever happen with *my*company's objects) for an object that looks like it can better reward the effort to shape it into goals that may not be fully grasped, but that become real in the interaction of users, developers, communities, and goals.

I suppose Lewin's focus on the individual in society, rather than on action in society, is a theoretical barrier. But they both work for me

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