Human development in a designed world: Ecologies of knowing.
As humans we are the only species which is dependent on technologies in most of what we do. Through a long history of sociotechnical development, we have come to a situation where artefacts and technologies intervene in how we work, learn and live our lives more generally. We remember by using texts and databases, we access and process information by using a range of increasingly sophisticated devices and our perceptual capacities are supported by spectacles, binoculars and microscopes. We live in a designed world. An interesting question in this perspective is how to understand the development of human cognitive (and other) capacities as they evolve in response to such increasingly diverse and powerful external instruments supporting and co-determining physical, social and mental activities. Most of our knowledge about how people learn and develop emerged in socio-historical contexts where the line of division between the individual mind/body, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the external world was relatively sharp. Today this line of division is blurred and most of what we know, we know through incorporation of technologies into the flow of our activities.
Read more about Professor Roger Säljö here.
Toward a power-sensitive conceptualization of transformative agency: The role of enhanced expansive learning tools of the Change Laboratory
Recent findings on transformative agency by double stimulation (TADS) represent a contribution to ongoing discussions of agency and change in a cultural-historical perspective. Aspects of these discussions revolve around the notion of power. This keynote address presents a theoretical argument supported by an empirical example claiming that TADS is intrinsically a power-sensitive conceptualization of agency. The proposition constructed here complements Erik Olin Wright’s perspective on the power of heterogeneous egalitarian coalitions for multi-layered collective action and transformation. Despite its dialectical and progressive stance, Wright’s perspective is still predominantly one based on accounts and critiques on existing and prospective power dynamics. The proposition put forward here focuses on how hidden, unrecognized and often suppressed power is generated and how it can be supported by means of symbolic and material tools. A fourth generation activity theory study on eradicating homelessness in Finland is presented as an example. The study used enhanced expansive learning tools of the Change Laboratory conducted at the level of a supported housing unit for former homeless, at the city level and at the national level. The proposition of a power-sensitive concept of transformative agency builds on the following three claims 1) power can be put in motion by means of TADS; 2) conflicting motives are a resource for generating and exerting power; 3) power is a process similarly mediated as TADS.
Annalisa Sannino is Professor in the Faculty of Education and Culture at Tampere University. She holds visiting professorships at Rhodes University, South Africa and at University West, Sweden. Her research career includes appointments in American, French, and Italian universities. Her work develops and brings into use the Finnish tradition of cultural-historical activity theory to foster participatory analyses of major societal challenges in close collaboration with stakeholders and practitioners. Her focus is on activities undergoing critical transformations and what these transformations entail in terms of collective agency and learning. Beside the authoring of numerous journal articles, she has served as the leading editor of several special issues and edited volumes in management, education and psychology.