Community of practice

We become speakers by interacting with other people and sharing different practices in a group as part of a dynamic and continuous process that lasts throughout our life cycle. These shared activities condition the linguistic practices of each person, who will end up becoming a type of speaker capable of adapting to different contexts and circumstances. For this reason, the notion of community of practice is one of the most useful tools available to analyse how the different subjectivities of speakers are created, maintained or modified in the (collective) practices developed in their day to day. A group of young people who come together to sing rap. Teenagers training and playing basketball games. Adults who rehearse during the week and dance every Sunday in their neighborhood square. All of these groups are examples of communities of practice; groups in which people interact and from which linguistic practices and ideologies arise, since in these contexts language is not an independent, autonomous and/or isolated element: language appears linked both to the specific activity carried out in the group and to the entire social structure.

In EquiLing research

La comunidad de práctica puede ser de gran utilidad desde el punto de vista teórico-conceptual y metodológico porque:

Community of practice can be very useful from the theoretical-conceptual and methodological point of view because: 

– It facilitates the study of speakers since, through concrete practices, we can analyze the (linguistic) dynamics that are created between different people, the group and the social structure. 

– Given that identity is not something fixed and linguistic use is a continuous learning process, the community of practice is a very appropriate space to observe this identity and linguistic construction process. 

– The community of practice model assumes the diversity present in any group. It also provides a dynamic and changing framework for analysis that assumes that people can participate in more than one community at the same time.

If you want to know more

Eckert, P & McConnell-Ginet, S. (1992). Think practically and look locally: Language and gender as community-based practice. Annual Review of Anthropology, 21(1), 461-488.

Eckert, P. (2006). Communities of Practice. In E. K Brown, R. E Asher, J. M. Y Simpson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Volume 2 (pp. 683-685). Elsevier.

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning. Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press.

Holmes, J. & Meyerhoff, M. (1999). The Community of Practice: Theories and methodologies in language and gender research. Language in Society, 28, 173–183. 

A community of practice is a group of people united around a shared goal that is sustained over time. The people who make up the group develop an activity together and are moved by a common interest. As a result of this interaction, different practices emerge: ways of acting, beliefs, values, power relations and, also, linguistic choices and ways of speaking.