Tracing the emergence of a community of practice: Beyond presupposition in sociolinguistic research

  • King B
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This study examines the language-driven aspects of the formation of a class- room-based community of practice (CoP), placing emphasis on ways in which researchers can verify the status of observed practices. Discourse analysis is reinforced by such an evidence-based understanding of the social milieu of a research site. When determining whether an aggregate of people is functioning as a CoP, however, the nature of the measuring stick is a vital question. When institutional forces have brought a group of partici- pants together, howcan an observer verify empirically the dynamic develop- ment of mutual engagement, joint enterprise, and shared repertoire? In a sample case study, representative features outlined by Wenger (1998:130– 31) are identified, and their emergence traced, via analysis of ethnographic fieldnotes and audio recordings. These features provide evidence of the de- velopment of localised practices (i.e.ways of doing grounded in this commu- nity) as distinct from more widely recognisable practices. Identifying the difference increases the likelihood that results of discourse analysis can be useful to educators.

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  • Brian W. King

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