Avis, James (2007) Activity theory - talking truth to power? In: 6th Conference of the Discourse, Power, Resistance Series, 25– 27 March 2007, Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

This paper is part polemic, part exploration. It examines Engeström’s version of activity theory, one rooted in Marxism. It is argued that whilst this approach holds progressive possibilities – ‘talking truth to power’, its radicalism is undermined by a restricted conceptualisation of transformation and the marginalisation of a politicised notion of social antagonism. As a consequence, this approach to activity theory can easily fold over into a conservative praxis that undermines its potential radicalism, becoming instead technicised and a form of transformism.

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