Herbert Clark's notion of joint activity
Activity : a time-bounded event (a football game) or an ongoing process (teaching) with constrained on participants and setting. Activity types vary on various dimensions (Levinson, 1969) :- scriptedness : "gradient formed by two polar types, the totally prepackaged activity on the one hand and the largely unscripted event on the other (e.g. a chande meeting on the street)." - formality : ranging from "a highly formal activity on the one hand and a very informal one on the other" - verbalness : the degree to which speech is an integral part of each activity.
Clark adds two dimensions : - cooperativeness : "ranges from cooperative activities like buying groceries to adversarial or competitive activities like playing tennis". - governance : ranges from egalitarian activities (participants have equal roles) to situations where someone plays a dominant role.
In any joint activity, some people are understood to be taking part of the activity and others not. Those people have roles in that activity : these roles help shape what they each do and are understood as doing. Participants also have personal identities.
In addition, people participate in joint activities to achieve certain dominant goals. In most joint activities, people pursue many goalds at once. Although the participants may share the dominant goal, there is usually a division of labor among them. If a guide leads tourists to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, they have the same end goal but differ in what they do in fulflling the goal. The participants in a joint activity assume public roles that help determine their division of labor. Clark presents different types of goals : - domain goal : the dominant goal (playing chess game) - procedural goal : sush as doing it quickly and efficiently. - interpersonal goal : such as maintaining contact with other participants or impressing them... - private agenda : such as getting rid of the others or working the situation for personal advantage.
Participants try to establish and achieve joint public goals AND try to individually achieve private goals.
Every joint activity requires coordination among its participants. People manage to coordinate with conventional and unconventional procedures.
Most joint activities get realized as sequences of smaller actions, many of which are themselves joint actions. -> division in phases or sections and each of which divides into subsections or subphases. What emerges is a hierarchy of joint actions. One reason joint activities are complicated is two or more people must come to mutually believe that they are participating in the same joint activity.
Joint activities also have boundaries. We can identify three stages of participants A and B with respect to joint activity J : 1. Entry : A and B go from not being in J to being in J. 2. Body : A and B are in J. 3. Exit : A and B go from being in J to not being in J.
Finally, joint acitivities may be simultaneous or intermittent, and may expand, contract, or divide in their personnel.
During joint activities, a wide range of information accumulates : the common ground of the participants about that activity : the knowledge, beliefs, and suppositions they believe they share about the activity. The concept of Common Ground is due to Robert Stalnaker (1978). The common ground of the participants about their conversation changes as the conversation proceeds.