For the first, more formal type, individuals change things by categorizing them into categories. The Leontiev’s activity theory is comprised of an activity that is driven by an object-related motivation, activities online that have a goal, and help to improve the overall activity and then finally, operations that are automated and controlled by the circumstances in which the activity is performed (McAvinia 2016). For instance, humans could put the tomato in the category of vegetable and although the tomato will not physically change the way it is organized and classified, its categorization and organization are. While Leontiev’s theory of activity was first came into existence in the 1920s, a lot of the work done by his Soviet School of Activity Theory was not known outside of the Soviet Union until it was adopted and popularized in the 1970s. In the second kind of transformation, dialectical," people locate resources and then create conditions" (Davydov, 1999).
Engestrom and Miettinen (1999) who traced the evolution of Activity Theory following the Second World War They claim that it was utilized in the field of child psychology and research of the development of language as and in the study of instruction. For instance the farmer can locate seeds to grow food. Since the 1980s activity theory has begun to affect spheres that are not related as human-computer interaction, education and the discussion of learning in a context (McAvinia 2016,). In this scenario the seeds are physically transformed within a different environment as they develop. Third Generation Activity Theory.
Transformations may be both cognitive as physically (McAvinia 2016,). The 1980s witnessed a diagrammatic representation of the theory of activity developed by Yrjo Engestrom. Activities are mediated and there are mediating artifacts. In the 1980s, Engestrom and his colleagues were conducting extensive research on theories of activity at University of Helsinki.
Engestrom (1987) analyzes the main change that humans made from to animals and then to humans’ capability to construct tools and utilize the tools in a deliberate manner. Engestrom’s representation of activity in visual theory is based on Vygotsky’s earlier model, and the modifications made by Leont’ev. This was, in Engestrom’s perspective, the beginning of the social system and division of work in humans.
The model is based on the notion that an individual is the subject. The use of tools allows people to realize their goals and also to be in a position to be influenced by tools (McAvinia 2016,). They pursue an object by using mediating artifacts that can be referred to as instruments or tools.
For instance, as Cole (1999) talks about the development of artifacts, they include the variations from the people that had utilized them throughout the past. The process could also be controlled by a group, the guidelines of that community (such as conventions, laws or unspoken rules) as well as the division of labor that defines how the people in the community are involved in the task. They also restrict what they can be used for since tools can limit the way that a subject engages in the objects.
The idea behind the activity is not fixed and constantly changes which means that what at first appears to be an object could quickly transform into an outcome, and then into a tool or, in the future, an actual rule (CRADLE 2011, and McAvinia 2016). For instance, a person with the bucket and sponge obliged to work towards the goal of "cleaning an entire home" more than someone using an electric power washer (McAvinia, 2016). If the goal of the bet is not being offered or can’t be achieved the conflict or break occurs in the system. Activities have rules and an Division of Labor. If a contradiction occurs it is a separate issue from the result. There are rules that affect activities. These contradictions could be a reason for why the result isn’t the one that was expected or wanted (McAvinia 2016,).
Rules of the Community as along with those of Division of Labour also impact the activities. Goal-directed, multivoiced, historically and evolving over time and subject to contradictions that can be the cause of growth and change; also susceptible to the possibility of the so-called "expansive change." However, this isn’t the sole structure of an activity theory because every node within the activity system are linked and are therefore able to affect the other (McAvinia 2016). Expansion, as previously mentioned is a key part of Engstrom’s work (McAvinia 2016). Rules A person’s actions are governed by the group of which they are members along with the rules that govern the community.
According to Engstrom the concept of activity is an expansive process that is vital to learning, but is not always restricted to a specific setting like an educational institution. Rules can be written or not. Third Generation Activity Theory identifies the interconnections between various activities, and Engestrom suggests that different activity systems may have shared or non-shared objects (McAvinia 2016,).