Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cultural Meaning

The Strauss and Quinn approach to cultural meaning was enlightening to me as I have never been exposed to this kind of approach before regarding thinking and learning. I have taken some anthropology courses but they have focused more on methodologies and research practices versus theories. I found that their theoretical chapters 1-5 made a much stronger argument for their connectionism framework to cultural meaning than the research studies in chapters 6-8. I got lost at various points in chapters 6-8 in all the examples they were giving and some of the circular logic. Plus, I did not understand why the authors kept saying in US marriage...but yet the authors never brought up any examples of how marriage is culturally understood in other countries/regions of the world. I was really hoping that they would bring this up as a point of comparison/argument... Did anyone find this to be a problem?

Overall, I thought their idea of how cultural meaning cannot be isolated and bounded made the connectionism approach more effective in my opinion. I found that the Strauss and Quinn book builds well on our previous texts in how we have come to realize how our minds work and I think this book helped me to understand how cognition is impacted by cultural meanings. They are internal as well as external from the schemas we create internally based on previous experiences we have had to the external environment in which cultural meanings are passed on from generation to generation. I found this approach has helped me have a more well-rounded view of cognition and learning.

One question that keeps coming to my mind with each text we read is how it relates to technology. I wonder how much our cultural meanings are now being transformed (or not?) through the software applications we use on a daily basis from the word processing tools we use to learn and create to the communication tools we use such as instant messenger and email. How does this impact our intrapersonal and extrapersonal realms as it relates to the cultural meanings we have or create?

3 Comments:

Blogger Alison said...

AWS – About your last comment on how all this relates to technology….I keep feeling as though this class is turning into a walk down a path with landmines! First we get Fleck’s deconstruction of facts, then Lave & Wenger situating learning, Understanding Practices’ versions of learning in context and S & Q on the centripetal/centrifugal nature of culture. (don't get me wrong...it's all incredibly intellectually stimulating!)Try to imagine if you will: Fleck’s version of “what is technology?” – L&W on “Situated Technology” – Contextualizing Technology – S&Q on “A Cognitive theory on the role technology in cultural meaning.” Just some food for thought....your comment made me think :-)

10:58 AM  
Blogger IB said...

I think that technology today influences cultural meanings in two ways. First, it seems to me that cultural meanings are being transformed faster through means of today’s technology, including instant messaging, on-time news reports, the vast amount of information available on the internet and so on. Second, I assume that cultural meanings become broader and more flexible because we can communicate with our friends and colleagues all over the world and we can get information on what is going on in all parts of the world in a matter of seconds. Thus it seems to me, that today’s individuals are more prompted to compare and adjust their schemas due to this high turnover of information and the very direct world wide communication.

(Sorry, this is not so elaborate, but I’m in a bit of a hurry. I think your question is very interesting and it really stimulated me to think about the impact of technology on schemas and meaning making.)

12:56 PM  
Blogger gt said...

I also liked how Strauss & Quinn explained how schemas are recursively constructed and modified from our interaction with the culture. They have painted a much clearer and more complete picture with their interaction of the interpersonal with the extrapersonal.

2:19 PM  

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