Eckert, P. (2006). To appear in 2006. Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. Elsevier. Communities of Practice Penelope Eckert. Communities, 1–4.


  • A community of practice is a collection of people who engage on an ongoing basis in some common endeavor. The emerge in response to comon interest or position, and play an important role in forming their members’ participation in, and orientation to, the world around them
  • History: community of practice was developed by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger as the basis of a social theory of learning.
  • the value of the notion of CoPs to Sociolinguistic Anthropology lies in the fact that it identifies a social grouping in virtue of shared practice
  • a community of practice develops ways of doing things, views, values, power relations and ways of talking through regular, joint activity.
  • two conditions of a CoP are crucial in the conventionalization of meaning:
    • shared experience over time
    • committment to shared understandinig
  • a community of practice engages people in “mutual sense-making” and this sense-making is based in a committment to mutual engagement and to mutual understanding of that engagement
  • Time provides opportunities for joint sense-making, and it deepens participants’ shared knowledge and sense of predictability – it allows meaning to be exercised and it provides the conditions for setting down convention