Annalisa Sannino served as one of the keynote speakers at the VILÄR Conference 2020 on work-integrated learning, organised by University West, Sweden. The other keynote speaker was Professor Roger Säljö (University of Gothenburg).
Title: “Toward a power-sensitive conceptualization of transformative agency: The role of enhanced expansive learning tools of the Change Laboratory”
Abstract: Recent findings on transformative agency by double stimulation (TADS) represent a contribution to ongoing discussions of agency and change in a cultural-historical perspective. Aspects of these discussions revolve around the notion of power. This keynote address presents a theoretical argument supported by an empirical example claiming that TADS is intrinsically a power-sensitive conceptualization of agency. The proposition constructed here complements Erik Olin Wright’s perspective on the power of heterogeneous egalitarian coalitions for multi-layered collective action and transformation. Despite its dialectical and progressive stance, Wright’s perspective is still predominantly one based on accounts and critiques on existing and prospective power dynamics. The proposition put forward here focuses on how hidden, unrecognized and often suppressed power is generated and how it can be supported by means of symbolic and material tools. A fourth generation activity theory study on eradicating homelessness in Finland is presented as an example. The study used enhanced expansive learning tools of the Change Laboratory conducted at the level of a supported housing unit for former homeless, at the city level and at the national level. The proposition of a power-sensitive concept of transformative agency builds on the following three claims 1) power can be put in motion by means of TADS; 2) conflicting motives are a resource for generating and exerting power; 3) power is a process similarly mediated as TADS.