It is common to associate situated activity with concrete, craftlike or manual activity here and now and to reserve theoretical and abstract thinking for activities like theoretical experimentation and systematic planning. Much work has gone into demonstrating that these activities are concrete and situated, too. In this presentation it will be argued that the investigation of systematic planning as conflictual cooperation will help us see that situated activity is not only based on the present conditions, but also relates them to events spread out in time and space, thereby opening up for another understanding of theoretical thinking. Some material from the empirical research project developed with Klaus Nielsen on the design and engineering of a house will be presented. On this basis a conception of planning will be unfolded. It will be understood differently from the way it is understood in technological rational science. It will be seen as a dialectic between focussing on specific aspects and developing their context accordingly. Conflictual cooperation will be unfolded as the dialectics between participants, when they have to coordinate their perspectives on different aspects of the house, when they have to decide who among us does what with what to achieve this. It will be argued that this process contains moral and political aspects, as well as aspects of privilege, and that these aspects as well as the organising of planning takes shape from concrete conditions. It will be argued that even though the house isn't there physically, it is present in praxis as professional perspectives, as the political praxis of reciprocally shaping each participant's contribution, and forming future obligations of who should do what. It will be argued that even though the planning goes systematically into any conceivable detail of the house to be built, still, unanticipated conditions appear during the whole process which must be taken into account. The planning is therefore not a realization of an idea, but a political development in the material and practical existence of the house.
building business; dialectics; coordination; conflictual cooperation; situated design
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The Biennial Conference of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology, 2009