Meaning Emergence in the Ecology of Dialogical Systems

Abstract

This article is an empirically based theoretical contribution to the investigation of meaningmaking in the ecology of human interaction and interactivity. It presents an ecological perspective on meaning-making that pivots on how agents pick up information directly in their organism-environment-system; i.e. as an activity that does not presuppose inner cognitive operations. We pursue this line of thought by presenting an analysis of how a doctor and a nurse make a decision about a specific medical procedure (catheterisation) based on meaning-making activity. As we do not see meaning as a linguistic (symbolic) or a cognitive (representational) phenomenon external to an agent/user, but as emergent in coordinated interaction, we zoom in on how the practitioners recalibrate the organism-environmentsystem by shift ing between a multi-agentive mode and an individual mode. We use Cognitive Event Analysis to investigate how the agents oscillate between being a multi-agent-system with shared, tightly coordinated agency and a loosely coupled dialogical system where the individuals bring forth an understanding based on their professional backgrounds and expertise. On this view, an ecological approach to meaning-making takes a starting point in how local interaction is constrained by previous events, emergent affordances in the environment, and real-time inter-bodily dynamics. Accordingly, meaning-making is seen as a joint activity emerging from the system’s coordinative actions rather than as a result of individual interpretation of symbolic content.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Bühler, K. (1934). Sprachtheorie: Die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache. Jena: Verlag von Gustav Fischer.

  • Cowley, S.J. (Ed.) (2011). Distributed Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Cowley, S.J. & Nash, L. (2013). Language, interactivity and solution probing: Repetition without repetition. Adaptive Behavior21 (3), 187–198.

  • Cuffari, E., Di Paolo, E., & De Jaegher, H. (2015). From participatory sense-making to language: there and back again. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences14 (4), 1089–1125.

  • De Jaegher, H. & Di Paolo, E. (2007). Participatory sense-making. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences6 (4), 485–507.

  • Enfield, N.P. (2014). Causal Frames for Understanding Language. In N.J. Enfield, P. Kockelman, & J. Sidnell (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook for Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Fowler, C.A., Richardson, M.J., Marsh, K.L., & Shockley, K.D. (2008). Language use, coordination, and the emergence of cooperative action. In A. Fuchs & V.K. Jirsa (Eds.), Coordination: Neural, Behavioral and Social Dynamics (pp. 261–279). Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Fusaroli, R. & Tylén, K. (2012). Carving language for social coordination: A dynamical approach. Interaction Studies13 (1), 103–124.

  • Gibson, J.J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

  • Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin Books.

  • Harvey, M.I., Gahrn-Andersen, R., & Steffensen, S.V. (2016). Interactivity and enaction in human cognition. Constructivist Foundations11 (2), 602–613.

  • Hollan, J., Hutchins, E., & Kirsh, D. (2000). Distributed cognition: toward a new foundation for human-computer interaction research. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI)7 (2), 174–196.

  • Hutchins, E. (1995). How a Cockpit Remembers Its Speeds. Cognitive Science19 (3), 265–288.

  • Jefferson, G. (2004). Glossary of transcript symbols with an introduction. In G.H. Lerner (Ed.), Conversation Analysis: Studies from the First Generation (pp. 13–31). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

  • Järvilehto, T. (1998). The theory of the organism-environment system: I. Description of the theory. Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science33 (4), 321–334.

  • Järvilehto, T. (2009). The Theory of the Organism-Environment System as a Basis of Experimental Work in Psychology. Ecological Psychology21 (2), 112–120.

  • Konvalinka, I., Xygalatas, D., Bulbulia, J., Schjodt, U., Jegindo, E.M., Wallot, S., Orden, G.V., Roepstorff, A. (2011). Synchronized arousal between performers and related spectators in a fire-walking ritual. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A108 (20), 8514–8519.

  • Kravchenko, A.V. (2007). Essential properties of language, or, why language is not a code. Language Sciences29 (5), 650–671.

  • Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Linell, P. (2009). Rethinking Language, Mind, and World Dialogically: Interactional and Contextual Theories of Human Sense-Making. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

  • Linell, P. (2013). Distributed language theory, with or without dialogue. Language Sciences40, 168–173.

  • Linell, P. (2015). Dialogism and the Distributed Language Approach: A Rejoinder to Steffensen. Language Sciences50, 120–126.

  • Love, N. (2007). Are languages digital codes? Language Sciences29 (5), 690–709.

  • Marsh, K.L., Johnston, L., Richardson, M.J., & Schmidt, R. (2009). Toward a radically embodied, embedded social psychology. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39 (7), 1217–1225.

  • Marsh, K.L., Richardson, M.J., & Schmidt, R.C. (2009). Social connection through joint action and interpersonal coordination. Topics in Cognitive Science1 (2), 320–339.

  • Pedersen, S.B. (2012). Interactivity in health care: bodies, values and dynamics. Language Sciences34 (5), 532–542.

  • Pedersen, S.B. (2015). The Cognitive Ecology of Human Errors in Emergency Medicine: An Interactivity-Based Approach. (Ph.D.-afhandling). Odense: University of Southern Denmark.

  • Pedersen, S.B. & Steffensen, S.V. (2014). Temporal Dynamics in Medical Visual Systems. Cybernetics & Human Knowing, 21 (1–2), 143–157.

  • Perry, M. (2010). Socially distributed cognition in loosely coupled systems. Ai & Society25 (4), 387–400.

  • Rączaszek-Leonardi, J. (2011). Symbols as constraints: The structuring role of dynamics and self-organization in natural language. In S.J. Cowley (Ed.), Distributed Language (pp. 161–184). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Rączaszek-Leonardi, J. & Cowley, S.J. (2012). The evolution of language as controlled collectivity. Interaction Studies13 (1), 1–16.

  • Rączaszek-Leonardi, J., Dębska, A., & Sochanowicz, A. (2014). Pooling theground: understanding and coordination in collective sense making. Frontiers in Psychology5 (1233), 1–13.

  • Richardson, M.J., Marsh, K.L., & Baron, R.M. (2007). Judging and actualizing intrapersonal and interpersonal affordances. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance33 (4), 845–859.

  • Secchi, D. (2011). Extendable Rationality: Understanding Decision Making in Organizations. New York: Springer.

  • Sidnell, J. (2016). Interactional trouble and the ecology of meaning. Psychology of Language and Communication20 (2), 98–111.

  • Steffensen, S.V. (2012). Care and conversing in dialogical systems. Language Sciences34 (5), 513–531.

  • Steffensen, S.V. (2013). Human interactivity: Problem-solving, solution-probing and verbal patterns in the wild. In S.J. Cowley & F. Vallée-Tourangeau (Eds.), Cognition Beyond the Brain: Computation, Interactivity and Human Artifice (pp. 195–221). Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Steffensen, S.V. (2015). Distributed Language and Dialogism: notes on non-locality, sense-making and interactivity. Language Sciences50, 105–119.

  • Steffensen, S.V. (2016). Cognitive probatonics: Towards an ecological psychology of cognitive particulars. New Ideas in Psychology42, 29–38.

  • Steffensen, S.V. & Pedersen, S.B. (2014). Temporal Dynamics in Human Interaction. Cybernetics & Human Knowing21 (1–2), 80–97.

  • Steffensen, S.V., Vallée-Tourangeau, F., & Vallée-Tourangeau, G. (2016). Cognitive events in a problem-solving task: a qualitative method for investigating interactivity in the 17 Animals problem. Journal of Cognitive Psychology28 (1), 79–105.

  • Trasmundi, S.B. & Linell, P. (submitted). Interactivity, extended dialogism and cognitive event analysis: finding problems to solutions in emergency medicine.

  • Tylén, K., Weed, E., Wallentin, M., Roepstorff, A., & Frith, C.D. (2010). Language as a tool for interacting minds. Mind & Language25 (1), 3–29.

  • Vallée-Tourangeau, F., Steffensen, S.V., Vallée-Tourangeau, G., & Makri, A. (2015). Insight and Cognitive Ecosystems. Paper Presented at the Proceedings of the Thirty-seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

  • Van Orden, G.C., Holden, J.G., & Turvey, M.T. (2003). Self-organization of cognitive performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General132 (3), 331–350.

  • Van Orden, G.C., Kloos, H., & Wallot, S. (2011). Living in the pink: Intentionality, wellbeing, and complexity. In C. Hooker (Ed.), Philosophy of Complex Systems. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

  • Wilson, R.A. & Clark, A. (2009). How to situate cognition: Letting nature take its course. In M. Aydede & P. Robbins (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

OPEN ACCESS

Journal + Issues

Search