Chapter 2 Community

From Wenger’s Communities of Practice

“Associating Community and Practice does 2 things ” – it gives us a tractable defn. of practice (  as distinct from, say, culture), “it defines a special type of community – a community of practice”

Community and practice are a function of each other, and exist in terms of each other. They are not separable.

3 ways in which practice coheres communities

1)mutual engagement

2) a joint enterprise

3) a shared repertoire

Mutual Engagement

Practice does not reside in books or tools – “people are engaged in actions whose meanings they negotiate with one another”. I’m confused. I had thought these tools and books were reifications, and encoded these negotiations, and were a function and part and parcel, and undeniably wrapped up in participation.

Still. People’s mutual engagement means that their practice is not determined by the history of that practice. The renegotiate it amongst themselves.

Membership in a COP is a matter of mutual engagement. So, it;’s not a function of class, or declaring you are a menmber, “belonging to an org., having a title, or having  personal relations with some people”

“A community of practice is not defined merely by who knows whom, or who talks with whom in a network of interpersonal relations through which information flows”

It also doesn’t require geographical proximity.

“Whatever it takes to make mutual engagement possible is an essential component of any practice” This can be anything from eating dinner together to emailing. It can also be friendliness, or keeping up with gossip, or any of the things that allow or enable access to these essential activities.

“Homogeneity is neither a requirement for, nor the result of the dev. of a COP” – individuals retain their inidiv id’s, which become identified, delineated, defined and a part of the interlocking COP, at time essentail to it, and engagement may produce either differentiation or homogenisation.

“Because they belong to a COP where people help each other, it is more important to know how to give and receive help than to try to know everything yourself” Connectivism in a nutshell. A nutshell withot al the bumpf.

He also argues that we benefit from relations with people with complementary skills ( things I don;t know and fine useful) but also overlapping skills ( people who share my skillsets – my peers).

He does clarify that in using the term community, he is not presuming harmony, peace and happiness. Cliques, jealousies, rivalries and disagreements occur. Misery may be the core shared experience in a COP.

Joint Enterprise

Three points about JE that keeps a comm. together

“It is the result of a collective process of negotiation that reflects the full complexity of mutual engagement.

“It is defined by the participants in the very process of pursuing it. It is their negotiated response to their situation”

“It is not just a stated goal, but creates among participants,  relations of mutual accountability that become an integral part of the practice”

Negotiated enterprise: enterprises are complex. They are to do with the work at hand, “making money, being an adult, becoming proficient…having fun doing well, feeling good, not being naieve, being personable, dealing with boredom, thinking about the future, keeping one’s place…..struggle to maintain a sense of self they can live with”

Becasue of the disparate nature of people, and their mutual engagement, joint enterprise does not need to be unfiieid, and, in some circumstances, may value dissent, disagreement and conflict. “The enterprise is joint not in that everybody believes the same thing, or agrees with everything, but in that it is communal”

An indigenous enterprise: Although historical and social factors, both stated and unstated,  outside the control of participants shape their practice, “it’s day-to-day reality is nevertheless produced by participants within the resources and constraints of their situation. It is their response to their conditions and therefore their enterprise”

That said they “have a position within a broader system” – a historical context, in a larger industry, people often don’t invent their jobs, or control the institutuojns that constitute them

Company’s efforts are often mostly successful in controlling the jobs of their employees.

But individuals are still resourceful and inventive, and respond to their own sitiuations. Local practices are invented. people have and share personal emotional responses, people buck the system, evade penalty, avoid things. So, the enterprise is never fully ec=xternally defined, or defined by a participant. This can be influebnced by the institution, practices can be changed, or altered, but it’s a complex process, an somewhat indirect – communities will still negotiate these changes.

A regime of mutual accountability: “negotiating a joint enterprise gives rise to relations of mutual accountability amongst those involved” People agree on what’s important, and unimportant. what to do. Who to pay attention to, who to ignore. all sorts of things. (this can include being personable, deciding that sharing info is important. People enforce, vocally, things that make their work easier, more bearable. A lot of this may be unspoken, and not easily reified, or not expressed or experienced primarily through reification.

Shared Repertoire: The dev of a shared rep. is the 3rd characterisiic of community coherence.  These are the shared words, routines, symbols, stories, gestures etc etc etc adopted and that have become a part of practice.  It reflects a history of engagement, they can be re-engaged in new situations, adaptable, and changeable.

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