Activity theory: A framework for analysing intercultural academic activity
Barnard, R. (2010). Activity theory: A framework for analysing intercultural academic activity. Actio: An International Journal of Human Activity Theory, 3, 25-37.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/4354
This article suggests that Activity Theory (AT) can be applied as a holistic framework to analyse the complex sociocultural issues that arise when academics wish to engage in collaborative activity across institutional and cultural boundaries. Attention will initially focus on how Activity Theory, first formulated in the 1930s by Leont’ev (1978), and subsequently developed into a second generation by Engeström (1987), can help to analyse and illuminate the inherent complexity within any one community of practice. A more elaborate model of AT (Engeström, 2001) is currently being developed and applied to analyse and illuminate collaborative activity across institutional boundaries, so as to transform discourse communities into speech communities of practice through expansive learning. It is suggested that this ‘third generation’ model can be further refined to analyse specific contact zones, within and between activity systems, as a precursor to undertaking collaborative activity. It is suggested that, when discourse communities deriving from different culturally diverse traditions seek to work together, such an a priori analysis would enable potential areas for miscommunication and misconstrual to be identified and possibly resolved before collaborative activity actually commences.
Centre for Human Activity Theory, Kansai University
This article has been published in the journal: Actio: An International Journal of Human Activity Theory. © 2010 The Center for Human Activity Theory, Kansai University. Used with permission.