Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 639–647 | Cite as

Ontology matters: a commentary on contribution to cultural historical activity

  • Jenny MartinEmail author


This commentary promotes discussion on the imaginary provided by Sanaz Farhangi in her article entitled, Contribution to activity: a lens for understanding students’ potential and agency in physics education. The commentary is concerned with aligning ontological assumptions in research accounts of learning and development with transformative aims. A broad definition of ontology as the theory of existence is preferred. Sociocultural approaches share relational ontology as a common foundation. I agree with scholars elaborating Vygotsky’s Transformative Activist Stance that a relational ontology does not imply activism. However, I argue that relational ontology provides a necessary and sufficient theoretical grounding for intentional transformation. I draw upon positioning theory to elaborate the moral aspects of language use and to illustrate that a theory of being as relational already eliminates the transcendental position. I draw on Farhangi’s article to further the discussion on the necessity and sufficiency of relational ontology and associated grammars in accounting for activism.


Positioning theory Sociocultural Ontology Activism Science education 


Este comentario promueve la discusión sobre el imaginario proporcionado por Sanaz Farhangi en su artículo titulado Contribución a la actividad: Una lente para entender el potencial de los estudiantes y la agencia en la educación física. El comentario se ocupa de alinear los supuestos ontológicos en las cuentas de investigación del aprendizaje y el desarrollo con fines transformadores. Se prefiere una definición amplia de la ontología como teoría de la existencia. Los enfoques socioculturales comparten la ontología relacional como fundamento común. Estoy de acuerdo con los eruditos que elaboran la Postura Transformativa Activista de Vygotsky de que una ontología relacional no implica activismo. Sin embargo, yo sostengo que la ontología relacional provee un fundamento teórico necesario y suficiente para la transformación intencional. Me baso en la teoría del posicionamiento para elaborar los aspectos morales del uso del lenguaje y para ilustrar que una teoría del ser como relacional ya elimina la posición trascendental. Me baso en el artículo de Farhangi para promover la discusión sobre la necesidad y la suficiencia de la ontología relacional y las gramáticas asociadas en la contabilidad de la agencia.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education and ArtsAustralian Catholic UniversityEast MelbourneAustralia

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