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Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems: the Career of a Concept

  • Etienne Wenger
Chapter

Abstract

The concept of community of practice was not born in the systems theory tradition. It has its roots in attempts to develop accounts of the social nature of human learning inspired by anthropology and social theory (Lave, 1988; Bourdieu, 1977; Giddens, 1984; Foucault, 1980; Vygotsky, 1978). But the concept of community of practice is well aligned with the perspective of systems traditions. A community of practice itself can be viewed as a simple social system. And a complex social system can be viewed as constituted by interrelated communities of practice. In this essay I first explore the systemic nature of the concept at these two levels. Then I use this foundation to look at the applications of the concept, some of its main critiques, and its potential for developing a social discipline of learning.

Keywords

Social System Social Learn Harvard Business School Learning Capability Legitimate Peripheral Participation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© The Open University 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Etienne Wenger

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