Towards a Transactional View of Creativity in the Social Sciences, Education, and Everyday Life

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Kevin NAIMI, Doctoral Candidate in the Sociology of Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, Canada
In this presentation I will articulate a transactional and relational approach to creativity and highlight some of the social justice implications of this approach in the context of both education and broader society. Both within the broader field of research about creativity as well as within popular culture, creativity is generally conceptualized in self-actional or inter-actional terms (Dewey & Bentley, 1960). These perspectives continue to view creativity as primarily residing within or between particulate individuals relying upon and deploy vocabularies and metaphysics that understand creativity primarily as an inborn gift. Within this field of study a well-developed trans-actional approach is still lacking. The purpose of this paper is to work towards addressing that gap. In this paper I will articulate a transactional and relational view of creativity that, rooted in a pragmatist conception of situated action (Colapietro, 2009; Joas, 1996) displaces creativity from within the individual situating it instead within the collective and cooperative communicative processes of everyday activity.

To achieve this I will start with a review of the literature on creativity with a particular attention to how self-actional and inter-actional view-points feature into some of the major approaches. Following this, building on Dewey and Bentley’s description of the transactional perspective, I will articulate a view of situated creativity that makes it possible to understand creativity as a property of collective activity while doing away with the essentialist overtones of prevalent viewpoints. I will conclude by arguing that by doing away with the compulsion to categorize and identify “creative types” this transactional perspective promises a more humane and inclusive approach to creativity in both education and society at large.