As part of the celebrations commemorating Gramsci birth, the Istituto Gramsci of Emiglia Romagna, in collaboration with the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (Paris), organized an international symposium (held in Bologna on 4-5 December 1991) on the topic: "Praxis, senso comune, egemonia: la psicologia dei problemi sociali complessi" (Praxis, Common Sense, Hegemony: The Psychology of Complex Social Problems).
The primary organizer of the symposium, Professor Francesco Paolo Colucci (a professor at the Institute of Psychology of the School of Medicine at the University of Milan) prepared the ground for the entire project with the publication of two documents which he authored. The first of these was an essay "Praxis as Tätigkeit: Antonio Gramsci's Ideas on the Subject of Common Sense and their Relevance to Psychology" in the Multidisciplinary Newsletter for Activity Theory, no. 9/10 (1991), pp. 41-49--this "Newsletter' is the official organ of the International Conference for the Research on Activity Theory (ISCRAT). The second document was a booklet, Antonio Gramsci 1891-1991. Praxis, senso commune, egemonia: la psicologia dei problemi sociali complessi, published by the Istituto Gramsci of Emiglia Romagna and distributed to the participants in the symposium prior to their gathering in Bologna. The booklet comprises two chapters and an appendix, together with relevant bibliographies. The first chpater is entitled "Attualità e rilevanza per la psicologia delle idee di Antonio Gramsci sul senso comune. Praxis come Tätigkeit"; the second chapter, "Progetto del seminario. Praxis, senso comune, egemonia: la psicologia dei problemi sociali complessi"; and the appendix, "La Teoria dell'Attività: origine e presentazione di un attuale indirizzo di ricerca."
The opening two paragraphs of Colucci's essay on "Praxis as Tätigkeit" provide some indication of the point of departure for his proposal to consider the relevance of Gramsci's ideas on "common sense" to current research in psychology:
Gramsci's ideas on common sense refer precisely to the tradition of Enlightenment thought and, at the same time, they present aspects of remarkable up-to-dateness for today's psychological research. These ideas link up with the problem, at present so important for social psychology, of social representations.Furthermore, Gramsci's ideas on common sense are founded, as all Gramscian thought, on the marxist concepts of praxis and historicity which, in the original and characteristic way they are developed by [END PAGE 47] Gramsci, present important consonances with the Cultural-Historical School founded by the Soviet psychologist Vygotsky and hence with the concept of Tätigkeit (Activity) as it is developed by this psychological school.
I have deemed it useful to concentrate this paper on Gramsci's ideas in order to facilitate the remarks, about the posed problem, of the psychologists well versed in their own field of research, hypothesizing that these ideas of Gramsci's can give rise to a comparison of different psychological theories and in this way contribute to the progress of psychology.
The body of the essay is divided into three sections: 1) "Introduction: meaning and importance of the problem of common sense in Gramsci"; 2) "Essential points concerning the problem of common sense in Gramsci"--which takes a close look at certain passages from the Quaderni; 3) "Hypothesis on the relevance to psychology of Gramsci's thought and on the relation of praxis-Tätigkeit.
Francesco Paolo Colluci also wrote an essay that provides a description and a detailed critical analysis of the presentations made at the international symposium held in Bologna. This essay has been published: "Il pensiero di Antonio Gramsci e la psicologia oggi" in Psicologia e Società. Rivista di Psicologia Sociale / Psychology and Society. Review of Social Psychology, XX (XLI), 1-2 (1993), pp. 95-129. Professor Colucci has kindly furnished us with an English version of this essay--we will publish extensive extracts from it in the next issue of the IGS Newsletter.