Between the Tag and the Screen - Arkitektur- og designhøgskolen i ...

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Between the Tag and the Screen - Arkitektur- og designhøgskolen i ...

4 B C H A P T E R 2 : T H E C O N T E X T O F S T U D Yanalysis, Engeström seeks to develop a model that is better equipped to dealwith issues related to groups of people oriented toward the same goals, butwhich are ultimately part of separate activities.Engeström has developed several important additions to activity theory in hiswork. Of these the concept of expansive learning has received much attention(Y Engeström, 1987). Expansive learning proposes that we see learning as anexpansive social process moving from abstract to concrete through a series ofsteps. Such learning is initiated as the result of disturbances that raisequestions about the current practice. These questions lead the subject(s)through a process resulting in a new practice. Thus expansive learning is seenas a process of knowledge production oriented toward changing socialactivities.Expansive learning is relevant for design, as it describes learning as a processof intervention and creativity. This is also taken up by Engeström byintroducing the concept of expansive design. Expansive designing viewsinteraction design in the context of producing new collective activities asopposed to mere artefacts. Engeström (2006) notes that expansive learningand expansive designing are two sides of the same coin.Engeström’s work is important and somewhat useful for this research. Yet,there are fundamental issues in his approach that do not conform to thedirection chosen for this thesis. Kaptelinin (2005) summarises the differencesbetween Engeström’s and Leont’ev’s approach to activity theory. In short, hestates that Engeström’s work is oriented toward analysing collaborative workand organisational change. Leont’ev, on the other hand, was predominantlyoriented toward an individual’s psychology. Given that my work is orientedtoward understanding materials in industrial and interaction designers’ designactivities and not the role of materials as a shared tool in a multidisciplinarycooperative design activity, my approach seems better suited for Leont’ev’soriginal view.However, this is not to say Leont’ev’s approach is without problems fordesign-oriented analysis. One of these problems concerns the relationbetween objects and motives in Leont’ev’s activity theory.Separation of objects and motivesIn using activity theory to investigate designing, attention has been drawntoward the concept of motive as it is specifically used in activity theory. 4 Therationale for this is that the concept of motives seems to capture central4 This must not be confused with motivation as it has been pursued in other domains, for instancethrough the works of Maslow (1943). Although related, activity theory’s notion of motives is anintegrated part of a larger structure enabling the analysis of human doing.39

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