Distributed cognition – analytics and problematization of the concept

Lada V. Shipo­val­o­va
Saint Peters­burg Uni­ver­si­ty

Dis­trib­uted cog­ni­tion – ana­lyt­ics and prob­lema­ti­za­tion of the con­cept

Abstract. The arti­cle ana­lyzes the con­cept of dis­trib­uted cog­ni­tion, which arose in sci­ence at the cross­road of cog­ni­tive, anthro­po­log­i­cal and ethno­graph­ic stud­ies at the end of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. The author dis­tin­guish­es between this and relat­ed con­cepts, such as dis­trib­uted knowl­edge, sit­u­a­tion­al cog­ni­tion, extend­ed mind, and col­lec­tive cog­ni­tion, and also deter­mines the main ele­ments of the dis­trib­uted cog­ni­tion with ref­er­ence to Edwin Hutchins’ works. She describes the research con­texts that shape the con­tem­po­rary rel­e­vance of this con­cept: non-clas­si­cal epis­te­mol­o­gy, research of mod­ern techno­science and dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. The two con­clud­ing parts of the arti­cle address the prob­lems char­ac­ter­iz­ing this con­cept and the areas of its appli­ca­tion. Con­sid­er­ing its appli­ca­tion, the author empha­sizes the im-por­tance of inter­sec­tion of the field of its appli­ca­tion, as well as research areas in sci­ence, polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mod­ern dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tions stud­ies. This inter­sec­tion demon­strates the pos­si­ble lim­its in how this con­cept applies, and also elu­ci­dates new aspects facil­i­tat­ing its fur­ther devel­op­ment. Par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to this con­cept is due to its abil­i­ty to medi­ate between cog­ni­tive, epis­temic, cul­tur­al, and socio-polit­i­cal con­texts of cog­ni­tion research.

Key­words: Edwin Hutchins, cul­tur­al cog­ni­tive ecosys­tems, dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tions, sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tion

DOI: 10.5840/dspl20192460


The research was sup­port­ed by the Russ­ian Sci­ence Foun­da­tion un-der Grant num­ber 19–18-00210 “Polit­i­cal ontol­ogy of dig­i­tal­iza­tion: Study of insti­tu­tion­al bases for dig­i­tal forms of gov­ern­abil­i­ty”.


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