Using 'use': Pragmatic consequences of the metaphor of culture as resources

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In this essay I comment on the paper by Gillespie and Zittoun (2009). I argue that the metaphor of culture as a set of resources entails that there be an agent with a certain purpose, whose action converts something into an instrument. In this sense, the metaphor is cryptointentionalist. This arises from the fact that every use of a cultural resource is an action, that is, something done with intention. I also argue that being aware of this intention is part of the basic condition for understanding human action. I analyze the problems of cultural psychology in adopting intentionalist terminology, showing that this rests on the inclusion of a dyadic conception of meaning for a considerable part of the field. In contrast, the adoption of a triadic conception of meaning-e.g., C.S. Peirce's semiotics-avoids the difficulties of integrating social meaning with personal intentionality. I question Vygotsky's inherited sign/tool distinction, arguing that it poses a problem for the analysis offered by Gillespie and Zittoun. Finally, I recommend making an explicit connection between phenomenological descriptions of human action and the culture-psychological concepts concerning the internalization of cultural resources. © 2010 SAGE Publications.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages10
JournalCulture and Psychology
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

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