Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

pp 280-284

Community of Practice

  • Peter Busch-JensenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University Email author 


The concept of “communities of practice” is of relatively recent date. The concept gained momentum with Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s book from 1991, Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Since then, the notion of “communities of practice” has been a focus of attention, not least in debates about learning, teaching, and education but also in debates about organizational theory, knowledge management, and work-life studies. The latter development accelerated with Wenger’s later book Communities of Practice (Wenger, 1998), but also picked up fuel from neighboring texts by – amongst others – Paul Duguid and John Seely Brown (1991) and Julian Orr (1996). The concept of communities of practice offers a dynamic and non-individualistic framing of learning as a social and situated activity oriented towards participation in social practice. From this also springs a number of interesting observations about human agency, cooperation, organization, and com ...

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