Hi Steffen, thanks for your response. A few comments:
1. My own prejudices:
I feel most at home in ‘ecological psycholgy’. I had my way, I suppose I would close down the Dept. of Cognitive Psycholgy, and the Dept. of Behaviour Psychology, and demand that they merge into a Dept of Ecological Psychology. I suspect that a hypothetical Gibson would be sympathetic!
2. I am sympathetic to Gibson’s ‘project’ to explore ‘direct perception’, which is active, and to an impotant extent unmediated. In my own work, I am fascinated by Ramachandran’s work (see BBC Reith lectures, 2004) on synaesthesia as a template for normal perception and learning, rather than a marginalised clinical condition.
But … I go along with Costall’s 1995 paper on socialising affordances, in which he says that Gibson seemed to have two theories of affordances, the second of which includes ‘social interaction’ (Gibson’s phrase).
3. So … to step back from Guru Exegesis for a moment …
The way I operationalis affordances is by opening up the way people make sense of their learning and professional development, by asking them to tell me stories, and to apply ‘enabling prompts’ to elicit rich descriptions of what actually happens. These stories are mapped out in audio nodes, and the narrator then adds other associated multi-media texts.
What informs this practice is the idea that the substantially un-mediated, performative ‘act’ of story telling, and exploring and creating associated texts is uncluttered by the over-cognitive practices of ‘reflective practice’ that is dominating ‘professional development portfolios’.
Which in turn means that I am most drawn to ecological psychology because of its critique of both ‘representationalism’ (I am a semiotician by training) and ‘cognitivism’. Which is not to say that, methodologically, I am averse to analysis and the application of critical theory. But it is to say that the richest primary data that I can get hold of is the data that is created in the performance of (prompted) story telling and pretty much ‘free-association’ iterative sense-making that follows.
The crux of the matter for me is that our narrators tell us that ‘they didnt previously know’ what they had just told us – i.e. the insights are what Knowledge Management would call ‘deep tacit’ knowledge. Now that’s an affordance that I a happy to spend a lot of effort facilitating, and trying to design human and software interactions to enable. Work in progress.
There is a lengthy (draft) paper on affordances and the crtique of cognitivism here, if you are interested.