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Communities of Practice

Learning, Meaning, and Identity

Etienne Wenger

Cambridge University Press, 1998, xv + 318 s.

This book presents a theory of learning that starts with the assumption that engagement in social practice is the fundamental process by which we get to know what we know and by which we become who we are. The primary unit of analysis of this process is neither the individual nor social institutions, but the informal ‘communities of practice’ that people form as they pursue shared enterprises over time. To give a social account of learning, the theory explores in a systematic way the intersection of issues of community, social practice, meaning, and identity. The result is a broad framework for thinking about learning as a process of social participation. This ambitious but thoroughly accessible framework has relevance for the practitioner as well as the theoretician, presented with all the breadth, depth, and rigor necessary to address such a complex and yet profoundly human topic.