Hereby, I send you the letter in which I motivate why I would like to participate in the International ISCAR University 2011. First, I will explain a little bit about my background and its relation to cultural-historical psychology. Then, I will clarify my interest in and expectations of the Summerschool and I end with the reasons why I think my participation in the Summerschool will be interesting for both the ISCAR and myself.
My study-background entails a Bachelors in Social Work and a Masters in Sociology. During my Masters program, I have been working at the Research Centre Society and Law at the Amsterdam University for Applied Social Sciences (HvA) as a researcher-in-education (HOIO). After finishing the Masters program, I continued my work at the research centre as a junior researcher. On April 1st, my PhD project officially starts. Considering my background in social work, the topic of cultural-historical psychology in social practice is most interesting for me.
The research centre is mainly concerned with action research, a research methodology with a close connection to the activity theory. We focus on questions asked by clients or professionals in the field, develop the research plan together with them and carry out the research in close collaboration. During the research process, preliminary results are shared with the stakeholders, and possible changes are implemented immediately and taken up in the existing research. In a former research project we used the methodology of the ‘learning history’ and analyzed the data with the Engeström theory of learning by expanding. In our research we look at individuals in their social and societal context, and try to understand the processes by which people make sense of changes in their lives and the world around them.
Even though we have build up some experience with action research and Engeström’s theory, we still have a lot to discover in this field. The ISCAR itself, but also other participants of the Summerschool, can offer different viewpoints when it comes to cultural-historical psychology and the activity theory. Additionally, I can share my experiences with action research and applying Engeström’s theory to learning histories.
In my PhD project, I focus on older persons and the way they make sense of their increasing vulnerability. I do this not only by asking the older people about their experiences, but I also focus on their social network and involved professional caregivers. Additionally, I will take historical changes in elderly care and the way it has been viewed over time into account. From the Summerschool, I expect to get some different viewpoints on my research project related to the activity theory and what this means for gathering and analyzing my data.