This benchmark text provides an accessible yet critical introduction to the theory and application of communities of practice and their use in a diverse range of managerial and professional contexts, from education to human resource development.

This book charts the development of the idea of communities of practice and explores the key relationship between learning and identity among:

  • newcomers and ‘old timers’
  • male and female workers
  • the low skilled and the high skilled
  • professionals and managers
  • adults and adolescents.

Drawing on international empirical studies and adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, this book is useful reading for all students, researchers, practitioners and policy makers with an interest in work, employment, labour markets, learning, training or education.

chapter 1|16 pages


Communities of practice: a contested concept in flux

chapter 3|11 pages

Lost in translation: communities of practice

The journey from academic model to practitioner tool

chapter 5|13 pages

Including the missing subject

Placing the personal within the community

chapter 6|15 pages

Cultivating network analysis

Rethinking the concept of ‘community' within ‘communities of practice’

chapter 7|13 pages

Theorizing sport as a community of practice

The coach–athlete relationship in British professional basketball

chapter 8|13 pages

The transition to work and adulthood

Becoming adults via communities of practice

chapter 9|11 pages

English apprenticeship from past to present

The challenges and consequences of rampant ‘community' diversity

chapter 10|11 pages

Sexuality, gender and legitimate peripheral participation

An ethnographic study of a call centre

chapter 11|13 pages

The learning trajectories of ‘old-timers'

Academic identities and communities of practice in higher education

chapter 12|12 pages

Unemployment as a community of practice

Tales of survival in the new Germany

chapter 13|15 pages

Communities of practice in their place

Some implications of changes in the spatial location of work

chapter 14|8 pages


Further developments and unresolved issues