Themenstrang: »Forschung«

Referent_in: Morten Nissen

Tag/Zeit: Mittwoch, 12.9.2018, 10:00–12:00 Uhr

In Osterkamp’s (as later in Danziger’s) reconstruction, the history of motivation reveals that the concept hides a power issue – a clash of wills – in the form of a scientific object. On the background of the rise of standardized practices in industry and education, what people are supposed to do is decided before the question arises whether and why they want to do it. The Vygotskians criticized the search for drives within the subject, and instead proposed the acquisition of socially formed motives. This reestablished a social subjectivity, but in a functionalist way that once again ignored relations of power.

But the problem of power could not be ignored. When Osterkamp wrote her thesis on motivation in the 1970s, the increasing recognition and requirement of self-governance had already pushed the field toward hypothesizing needs that would challenge the constitutive power issue; this would later first of all be articulated in Deci & Ryan’s theory of ‘intrinsic motivation’ coming from autonomy, competence and relatedness. Deci & Ryan still operate within the horizon of isolated, pre-given activities chosen and controlled by individuals whose social relatedness is an external matter. But Osterkamp’s concept of true motivation coming from ‘productive needs’ is different, since it bases on the notion of agency (Handlungsfähigkeit) as participation in collective production and control of conditions. This reconnects subjects and activities to the (Spinozist ethics of) the social totality, and it points to a critical moment: To participate fully is to co-constitute and co-create activity. The later development of German-Scandinavian Critical Psychology (mostly through Holzkamp and Dreier) would move away from the concept of productive needs because the issue was subsumed under the phenomenological primacy of the first-person-perspective, and critique was reduced to an opposition to external control. This presentation seeks an alternative development of the tradition, more in line with the works of Frigga and Wolf Haug. We must conceptualize the emergence of motives in social practices, not as the acquisition of pre-given forms, but as the becoming and development of new. One important recent theoretical development we can learn from here is in the conjunction of aesthetics with politics in the theories of Rancière, Groys and others. Like in Frigga Haug’s work, the self is not an immediate experience, but a practical relationship mediated in cultural forms that we create together, in collaboration and in struggle. This provides a key to critically rearticulating current approaches to motivation such as ‘motivational interviewing’ or 12 step fellowships.

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