Body, tools and the environment in craftwork : The study of wooden boatbuilding

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201704123823
Title: Body, tools and the environment in craftwork : The study of wooden boatbuilding
Author: Fonseca Silva, Paulo de Tarso
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Institute of Behavioural Sciences
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2017
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201704123823
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/181409
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: This masters' thesis explored the use of the body, tools, and the environment in craftwork from an embodied cognitive perspective. More specifically the activity studied was wooden boatbuilding. Activity theory was used to map the elements and the dynamics of the wooden boatbuilding activity in relation to the object of work (a wooden gunboat). The research interests (related to body, tools and environment) were positioned among the different elements of the wooden boatbuilding activity (tools, subject, object, outcome, rules, community and division of labor) by following an activity theoretical structure. Previous research has shown that the abilities of the body are quite often overshadowed by the abilities of brain alone, even though cognition is embodied due to its dependency on the characteristics of the agent's physical body. The objective of this research was to seek further understanding on the position of the body and its role in an activity of craft with the use of tools and environment. By having an embodied cognitive perspective, the research looked at the types of materials from the environment that were applied for work, and how material artefacts have contributed to the body's performance during craft. In addition, the research took into account the characteristics of the work environment that enabled the body of craftsmen to work more efficiently. Specifically, the thesis captured a two-day data collection of videos and interviews in the dockyard of Suomenlinna Fortress, based on the method of ethnography. The data collection gathered material for the analysis of the craftwork on a wooden gunboat model, during a process of craft called caulking. For the analysis, the work of five subjects (wooden boat builders) was observed closely. The method applied for analysis of data was thematic analysis, which required a selective process of data, based on relevant or reoccurring themes identified throughout video files. The most representative themes of the activity were framed in sets of images for further interpretation, and in that way enabling the validation of themes and their relevance to the research questions. As a result, the themes identified in the activity of wooden boatbuilding were (1) the abilities of the body, (2) the limitations of the body, (3) the body and the process of sensing, (4) the affordance of tools, (5) tools as mediators, and (6) the affordances or the environment. All these themes were building blocks for conceptualising the role of the body in the craft of wooden boatbuilding, the role of tools in the craft of wooden boatbuilding, and how the environment is used in the craft of wooden boatbuilding. This research concluded that, while activity theory allowed a holistic understanding of a craft activity, such as wooden boatbuilding, embodied cognition was vital for conceptualising the role of the body as a starting point in relation to all elements of the activity, including tools and environment. In addition of certifying the usefulness of this combination (embodied cognition and activity theory), perhaps the most relevant finding of this research was the so-called APDCS (area of potential development of craft skills), which could contextualise the integration among body, tools and environment in the craft of wooden boatbuilding through the development of various tasks.
Subject: embodied cognition
craft
body
tools
environment
activity theory
Discipline: Adult education
Aikuiskasvatustiede
Vuxenpedagogik


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