Economies of Learning & Paying Attention: A Case Study
This paper assesses the role of attention in learning by comparing the effects that different reading modalities and participation practices have in learning, and uses book clubs as venues of learning interactions. Specifically, this paper presents the basic findings of a case study conducted on a gender mixed crime fiction face-to-face book club in Athens. Based on grounded theory methodology, the results indicate that exchanges are framed in terms of an agonistic “gift economy” and circulate among two basic reading modalities grounded in different structures of paying attention and invested with different cognitive value: a) a deep –effortless- immersion of attention in the momentary experience of reading and b) a deep -effortful- re-reading which divides time in order to obtain deeper insight. The study locates a group of marginalized women, who are unable to enter the agonistic exchange cycle as givers and stay in a permanent ‘cognitive debt’. The construction of regimes of worth among members has implications for the study of interactions in many learning environments. In this respect, this paper attempts to bring together insights from social sciences and cognitive theories, in order to open up a fruitful dialogue between the two with pedagogical implications and future cross-disciplinary research directions.
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