Friday, February 19, 2010


WHAT is Activity Theory?
Action towards a specific goal (conscious), carried out by an individual or a group possible goals and subgoals, critical goals. Activity Theory is more of a descriptive meta-theory or framework than a predictive theory. It considers entire work / activity system. The unit of analysis is motivated activity directed at an object (goal). Activities consist of goal-directed actions that are conscious.

WHY Activity Theory?
Activity towards an objective (goal) carried out by a community. A result of a motive (need) that may not be conscious social and personal meaning of activity.

Operation structure of activity typically automated and not conscious concrete way of executing an action in according with the specific conditions surrounding the goal.

(Refer to diagram Activity System / Engestrom Model)
In order to reach an outcome it is necessary to produce certain objects (e.g. experiences, knowledge, and physical products).

Human activity is mediated by artefacts (e.g. tools used, documents, recipes, etc.).

Activity is also mediated by an organization or community.

Also, the community may impose rules that affect activity.

The subject works as part of the community to achieve the object.

An activity normally also features a division of labour.

PRINCIPLES of Activity Theory
1. Object-orientedness.

2. Internalization/externalization.
- Internalization provides a means for people to try potential interactions with reality without performing actual manipulation with real objects (mental simulations, imaginings, considering alternative plans, etc.).
- Externalization transforms internal activities into external ones.

3. Mediation.
- Activity Theory emphasizes that human activity is mediated by tools in a broad sense.
- Tools are created and transformed during the development of the activity.
- Tool use influences the nature of external behavior and also the mental functioning of individuals.

4. Development.
- In Activity Theory development is not only an object of study, it is also a general research methodology (i.e. formative experiment)- combines active participation with monitoring of the developmental changes of the study participants.
- Ethnographic methods that track the history and development of a practice have also become important in recent work.

Retrieved: 12/2/2010

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