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Situational ontology and historical immediacy. An ecology of developmental change Jytte Bang Department of Psychology University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Presentation on theme: "Situational ontology and historical immediacy. An ecology of developmental change Jytte Bang Department of Psychology University of Copenhagen, Denmark."— Presentation transcript:

1 Situational ontology and historical immediacy. An ecology of developmental change Jytte Bang Department of Psychology University of Copenhagen, Denmark

2 The challenge for developemental science Microgenesis ?? ?? ?? Ontogenesis Emergence and the paradox of developmental studies The genetic method in the everyday life of children

3 Investigating the ‘now’ ‘The axiom of immediacy’ The limitations of the stimulus-response scheme in psychology (Leontjev 1977) Radical expiricism (James 1912) The issue of ontological reduction: what is immediately perceivable to an observer Challenge: how to acknowledge and expand ontology? What is it that we study in microgenesis? History as a core concept to developmental science

4 The microgenetic situation: historical immediacy The travel metaphor of history: Past-now-future (segregating into ‘units’) Irreversibility of history A rich ontology: (1) The present-present (2) The absent-present (nothingness) The concept of nothingness enriches the situational ontology by suggesting an awareness of the absent present, that is, an awareness of the historical character of the immediate. The microgenetic situation maintains its immediateness, but the immediateness becomes historicized. Two dimensions of nothingness: (1) nothingness as narrative temporality, and (2) nothingness as synthesis

5 The microgenetic situation: historical immediacy Nothingness is a term which intends to grasp the rich ontology of historical immediacy. Nothingness is in play in two simultaneous ways: as that which is the past and thereby constitutes the situation with regard to the present as different from the past (narrative temporality); and as that which is yet present and thereby constitutes the situation with regard to the absent-present (synthesis). In this respect, the microgenetic studies of development must pay theoretical and methodological respect to the ongoing production of historical immediacy Example: Having new furniture

6 The developmental situation: Jennifer at home having dinner At the leisure time activity center, Jennifer has been coloring Christmas elves. Jennifer and her family (Mom, Dad, and Kate) are having dinner. Jennifer does not speak much but at some point during the dinner she suddenly looks at the observer and says “please don’t tell Mom and Dad….” She gets up from her chair to goes whisper into the observer’s ear what it is that she does not want to be told: that she is preparing a gift for Mom and Dad – the colored Christmas elves that are all going to sit around the house. She covers her mouth with her hands and whispers very quietly into the observer’s ear. The observer promises to not tell them her secret since she wants it to be a surprise. However, her little sister Kate is all ears and hears what Jennifer whispers. She loudly leaks Jennifer’s secret in front of everyone around the table. Jennifer gets very sad and her eyes get filled with tears. Mom tries to minimize the damage by saying that it is still a very long time to Christmas and so at that point they will all have forgotten what they just heard and the gift will still be a surprise. But Jennifer is upset and she goes hit Kate who starts crying. Mom comforts Jennifer who has a tearful voice and eyes full of tears. Dad comforts Kate who was hit. Jennifer sits silently and stares at her plate. Dad changes the subject and says that he wonders if they may have a Christmas calendar this year. Apparently he tries to create some good spirit around the table by directing everyone’s attention toward something else. But Jennifer says nothing. She eats a bit of her food.

7 The developmental situation: Jennifer at home having dinner Mom and Dad try to speak about something else and Kate easily follows them. Jennifer just eats and says nothing. She looks rather sad. After a while she asks if they want her to tell them about the Christmas elves that she is coloring; that is, she asks them if they want her to tell more about her secret. But Mom stops it and says ”no, Jennifer…if you tell us about it now, we cannot forget about it, can we?” Jennifer says nothing. Mom tries to talk about something else, apparently to distract her. Everyone has finished eating and Jennifer sits with her hands down along her body. Mom and Dad try to cheer the children and talk about what will be on the television for children tonight. Jennifer brightens up a bit but is still very quiet. Mom and Dad want both of the children to apologize to each other for having leaked a secret and for having hit someone. With a tearful voice Jennifer says that Kate must promise to never again tell a secret of hers. Mom says that she hopes they have both learned from this.

8 Historical immediacy of the example The immediately observable: Persons; activities; relations Historical immediacy: Narrative temporality: The dinner situation is part of a continued story of Jennifer’s day Synthesis: The ‘before’ of Jennifer’s day is absent but present Cultural standards are implicit and negotiated both emotionally (sadness) and intersubjectively (repair) Social standards as active moments of the historical immediacy of the situation: Gift offering; keeping a secret; surprising someone that you love; sister-sister-parent relationships; trust parents to comfort you; feeling devoted to close ones; paying respect to others; etc. Violation of valued standards that the participants were ‘non-aware-of’ turn the situation into one of crisis and of inquire -> developmental situation

9 The nothingness of ‘do’ and ‘don’t It may become possible to identify some of the moments that may ‘fuel’ developmental changes. The figure illustrates that some of the ‘do’s are being violated in ways that makes the situation conflictual and therefore appear as ‘don’t’s. In general, the situation has an indeterminate character and therefore inquiry and questioning is needed

10 What is a developmental situation? A situation might be characterized as a developmental situation whenever it is experienced as indeterminate in personally relevant ways by the participating person(s) within the frame of the situation’s historical immediacy which calls for inquiry and questioning. These are the dynamics that should be focused upon in the attempt to study the microgenesis of developmental potentialities.

11 Theoretical inspirations Leontjev: The ‘axiom of immediacy’; the ‘fifth quasi-dimension’ Ilyenkov: The ‘ideal’ Bergson: ‘Duration’ Sartre: ‘Nothingness’; ‘questioning’ Dewey: The ‘situation’; ‘inquiry’


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