JRP Submission ID#126
Submitted on Dec 4, 2007
TITLE: Using Activity Theory's Principle of Contradictions as a
ABSTRACT: Contradictions are one of the principles of Activity Theory
(AT). This paper analyses how contradictions have been conceptualized
and why they are important particularly in contexts of change in
professional practice. It highlights how individuals may use the
principle to approach inquiry into innovation and transformation in
professional practice in particular and human activity in general in
order to bring sense and meaning to the complexities of change. The
paper first synthesizes how contradictions have been conceptualized in
the theoretical and empirical literature. It then highlights their
usefulness as an analytical tool in research and subsequently outlines
how researchers have approached inquiry using contradictions in term
of their methods.
KEYWORDS: Activity Theory; contradictions; professional practices;
Typically, analysis of contradictions using Engeström's model of AT
involves identifying contradictions in the activity system under study
. . . In a healthcare setting, Engeström identified "systemic
contradictions giving rise to disturbances" (p. 965). One
contradiction was between rules emphasising physicians' individual
work and the object of activity (patients and their health). Engeström
articulated the contradictions in the following terms: "Multiproblem
patients who move between different care providers require
collaboration across institutional boundaries. However, the
traditional rules of the hospital organization emphasize that each
physician is alone responsible for the care of his or her patients"
(p. 965). . . .
The process of conducting analysis of contradictions from, for
example, interview data can be aided by coding techniques . . .
Once the contradictions have been coded, they can be grouped by theme
or category . . . In a study of contradictions in teachers' practice
in the physical and virtual classroom, Authors (in press) used keyword
analysis to identify contradictions related to: time and workload,
visual cues . . .
Potential reviewers may respond soon, within the next 12 hours please,
as I will be away from my computer after that.
PS: I will have limited access to e-mail during Dec 6-21, 2007.