Schatzki’s practice theory: an annotated bibliography

Why post an annotated bibliography?

Well, I’ve been doing a bit of reading and I thought others might find it useful! Also, I’ve noticed that many people aren’t sure what annotated bibliographies are, and that they can be done in many different ways. This is not given here as an ideal model, just one approach.

Why Schatzki and practice theory?

Because I find him and his theory fascinating, and because there are very few summative reviews or accounts in the literature. Schatzki has written a huge amount, and his ideas have changed over time. I found it helpful for myself to recap my readings, sort them out chronologically, and kind of map what the key themes were.

Hang on, I’ve read some of that stuff and that’s not what I took from it!

Great! There’s no singular reading of any text. This bibliography reflects my focus, interests and purposes. There’s a lot more to Schatzki’s writing than I have summarised here. In a way what I’m hoping to show is how good annotations (at least in my view) are not neutral or objective, but focused and intentional. It is also partial (some may find I haven’t paid much attention to practice memory, for example).

Caveat emptor

So… beware before taking this as an objective summary of Schatzki’s work. Certainly don’t rely on it as a proxy for doing your own reading. But do see it as a chance to see how someone else has been engaging with his work.

Get involved!

I see this potentially as a collective work in progress, and if you are happy to share your sense of the key points, messages or value of the texts listed (or indeed others that I have missed), then we can grow the bibliography (and the authorship of it!). Please let me know what you think:

1. Do you do annotated bibliographies differently?

2. How could this be improved?

3. Do you read Schatzki? How do your impressions compare and contrast?

Schatzki T R (1987) Overdue analysis of Bourdieu’s theory of practice. Inquiry 30(1-2), 113-126.

As far as I can tell this is one of the earliest pieces he wrote on these issues. He begins the critique of Bourdieu – a thread that continues throughout much of his later work. Bourdieu (and Giddens) are primary reference points, and his project in creating a social theory / philosophy is framed alongside, as well as in distinction to these.

Schatzki T R (1990) Do social structures determine action? Midwest Studies of Philosophy 15(1), 280-295.

Addresses questions of individual/social, structure/agency. Early mentions of his idea of eschewing these binaries by examining human coexistence.

Schatzki T R (1991) Elements of a Wittgensteinian philosophy of the social sciences. Synthese 87(2), 311-329.


Schatzki T R (1993) Wittgenstein: mind, body, and society. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 23(3), 285-313.

These foreground the Wittgensteinian influence in his earlier work (particularly the 1996 book). In particular he uses LW’s notions of rule following, the urge to get back to the rough ground (practices); although TS seems less interested in language than LW. Later works retain a Wittgensteinian flavour but build more strongly on Heidegger. The 1993 paper highlights the themes of mind, body and society that are central pillars in his 1996 book (which gets into mind/body/action).

Schatzki T R (1996) Social practices: a Wittgensteinian approach to human activity and the social. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The first biggie! Chapter 1 outlines the move to practices as the fundamental unit of analysis of social phenomenon (escape structure/agency, totality/individual binaries). He claims a creative interpretation of Wittgenstein. Chapter 2 focuses on mind/body/action, definitions of these; being a body, having a body, instrumental body. Chapter 3 explores the social constitution of mind, action and body. Chapter 4 is about social practices, space and time, and introduces understandings, rules, and teleoaffective structures (note the split between practical and general understandings is not yet there); dispersed and integrated practices, co-evalness, relationality, time and space all make an appearance. Chapter 5 is about dimensions of practice theory and involves comparisons and contrasts with Bourdieu and Giddens; also talks about emergence. The final chapter is about practices and sociality – social order, hanging together (commonality, orchestration, same or different settings, chains of actions, X=object of Y practice); relationality is a big theme.

Schatzki T R & Natter W (1996) Sociocultural bodies, bodies sociopolitical. In T R Schatzki & W Natter (Eds), The social and political body. London: The Guildford Press, 1-25.

Joint editorial introduction to the volume explores the body-society complex: human bodies that incarnate and are transformed by sociocultural practices and phenomena. There is reference to Turner, Bourdieu, Foucault, Butler etc. And (unusually for Schatzki) quite a lot of reference to discourse. They write of four dimensions of human body in current discussions:

  1. Physicality, neurophysiological, hormonal, skeletal, muscular, prosthetic
  2. Bodily activity – bodies forth mental conditions
  3. Lived body – distinction between self and body – embodiment (Cartesian overtones)
  4. Surface of body –  clothed, decorated, punctured, done up.

A couple of key points out of what follows (for me at least) include:

  1. Practices, discourses, institutions – shape bodies and constitute individuals
  2. The physical body that is subjected to sociocultural molding is an always already causally socioculturally invested physical entity (even before birth) not a piece of pristine nature – a purely biological organism – lying outside of and opposable to the sociocultural.
  3. Putting forward a conception of the human body as a naturally expressive, socially invested, and biophysically formed and operative entity whose activities manifest and signify the various components of individuality such as personhood and subjecthood, gender and mind/action.

Schatzki T R (1996) Practiced bodies: subjects, genders, and minds. In T R Schatzki & W Natter (Eds) The social and political body. London: The Guildford Press, 49-77.

Schatzki’s own contribution to the book he edited with Natter. What seems different here from his writing on the body that came out at the same time (the 1996 book) is the explicit and detailed reference to Foucault and Butler. He gives an interpretation and critique of each. Foucault offers valuable insights, he writes, but there are three lacunae relating to bodies and practices:

1. Apparatuses are incompletely dissected – not just discourses but what governs them

2. Foucault’s three kinds of constitution do not exhaust range of possible types

3. The constitutive relation between body and persons/subjects is poorly theorized.

He then moves on to Butler and her performance rather than substance conception of gender. He appreciates Butlers’ highlighting of the bodily dimension that he sees as neglected in Foucault. It seems also that Schatzki appreciates the greater sense of materiality in Butler as compared to Foucault. His critique of Butler centres on her ‘overly linguistic notion of practice’ (p64), in which the role of nonverbal doings is not thematised. This is interesting as it leads on to some of Schatzki’s more explicit statements about the limits of language – ‘language’s impotence’ (p71) even.

He then discusses his Wittgensteinian view of mind/body/action – going over much of the same territory that is covered in early parts of the 1996 book. In conclusion he suggests that he, Foucault and Butler ‘share the central intuition that social life, in the form of practices, shapes individuals by moulding human bodies’ (p73), while suggesting on what grounds his practice-based account is superior.

Schatzki T R (1997) Practices and actions: a Wittgensteinian critique of Bourdieu and Giddens. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 27(3), 283-208.

This covers much of what is in chapter 5 of the 1996 book. Problems with individual as ontological point of departure; relations between practices and actions (though not as developed as by 2010 in terms of activities); actions not caused by representations but conditions of life – how things stand. Organised by practical understandings, rules, teleoaffective structures (still no general understandings).

Schatzki T R (2000) The social bearing of nature. Inquiry 43(1), 21-38.

This one is good for explaining the site ontology, and why his theory is close to but not the same as actor-network theory (because questions of nature get into questions of human/nonhuman and agency etc). There is quite a lot about materiality in this (perhaps the beginning of the shift that is stronger in the 2001 edited collection and explicitly noted and a thrust of the 2002 book). Practices and (material) arrangements posses huge, though not equal, ontological, causal and prefigurative significance. Society vs. nature does not map onto human vs. nonhuman. Artefacts and nature codetermine the fact of activity (almost as actors but not quite). Shape of human activity is tied to the body and the evolving practices of which it is a moment.

Schatzki T R (2000) Wittgenstein and the social context of an individual life. History of the Human Sciences 13(1), 93-107.

This is part of a special issue about philosopher Peter Winch, and the paper is really more about philosophical nuances rather than advancing new aspects of Schatzki’s theory. People are constitutively social beings; the social context of an individual is nexuses of practice(s). This may be important however as one of the earliest references to ‘practice theory’ as a kind of emerging turn or thrust: contemporary movement – practice theory – that develops the Wittgensteinian position and represents, perhaps, his [LW’s] most significant legacy for social thought.

Schatzki T R (2001) Introduction: practice theory. In T R Schatzki, K Knorr Cetina & E von Savigny (Eds) The practice turn in contemporary theory. London: Routledge, 1-14.

TS’s intro to the now much-cited edited collection. Contains the key definition of practice; foregrounds posthumanist and other (eg. his, which are nearly-posthumanist or moderate posthumanist) views; talks of practice theory as loose family; some ideas about embodiment.

Schatzki T R (2001) Practice mind-ed orders. In T R Schatzki, K Knorr Cetina & E von Savigny (Eds) The practice turn in contemporary theory. London: Routledge, 43-55.

Schatzki’s own take within the polyphony of the volume. Social orders as arrangements, including artefacts and things related to each other. Four kinds of relations – spatial, causal, intentional and prefigurative (enabling/ constraining). Practical intelligibility = guide as to what to do, we do what makes sense to do. This is in turn guided by (he elsewhere says practices are organised by) rules, understandings and teleoaffective structures. Points to moderate posthumanism in relation to artefacts; mind as states of affairs. A bit about emotions, telos/affect.

Schatzki T R (2001) Subject, body, place. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91(4), 698-702.

A bit of a foray into specific questions of place, and a response to a paper by Edward Casey. Not really at the core an articulation of his major theory, but traces of it are there, and it also indicates his growing interest in Heidegger. The theme of the body is really taken up (perhaps in the most in depth way since 1996) – body mediates between self and place; body as enactive vehicle and subject – I am my body, I have my body. Body as living-lived not physical (post-Heideggarian phenomenology). Doesn’t agree with Casey’s use of habitus concepts.

Schatzki T R (2002) The site of the social: a philosophical account of the constitution of social life and change. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

The second big book. And some major developments in it! This is the book with concrete references / illustrations to Shaker communities and stockmarket traders. In the preface he admits he slighted the role of materiality in his previous work, and this is a correction to that. Chapter 1 talks about material arrangements, and his notion of prefiguring as come close to but not quite as extreme as posthumanist agency of objects. Quite a bit about orders, social orders (including 4 kinds of relation again: spatial, causal, intentional, prefiguring). He says meaning [that something is X-ing] = reality laid down through regimes of activity and intelligibility that are called practices. In chapter 2 we get the first mention of 4 organising features rules, and teleoaffective structures, plus now 2 kinds of understanding: practical and general. Quite a bit here about doings and sayings, and he defends a residual humanism (ie. not going as far as ANT); lots on intelligibility, and the idea that practices mediate causal relevance of materiality. Chapter 3 is mainly about site ontology, practice-order bundles (which he later calls practice-arrangement bundles; the latter is the term that seems to stick in the longer term). Chapter 4 is about agency, movement, change. Arrangements impute, prefigure and lead to agency; agency requires arrangements. Early development here of idea that human activity is fundamentally indeterminate.

Schatzki T R (2002) Social science in society. Inquiry 45(1), 119-138.

This is a review of Flyvbjerg’s book, about approaches to research, and the role of theory in research and society. TS questions F’s attachment to Foucault and power – what about gender? Space? Politics? This is symptomatic of his distancing from MF and power questions. Then gets into his own theory – human activity is indeterminate; supports getting close to reality; rejects simplicity and manipulability of map-like representations. Instead we should explore specific nuances and frequent complexity of particular situations or social phenomena. Better able to uncover richness of what happens there and through that in social life at large.

Schatzki T R (2003) A new societist social ontology. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33(2), 174-202.

Site ontology (probably one of the best explanations); vs. individualist / societist versions. Site has 2 dimensions: practices and material arrangements. 4 steps in analysis: delimit activity episodes; uncover practice-arrangement bundle; uncover further meshes / confederation of nets; trace chains of human and nonhuman action. Good on enactment: actions that compose practices are performed by individuals, but their organisation is not a property of specific individuals – is expressed in the set of actions that compose practices, not in the sum of minds. Prefiguration = future-organising not causing/determining.

Schatzki T R (2005) Peripheral vision: the sites of organizations. Organization Studies 26(3), 465-484.

Again good on site ontology: site = practice and material arrangements as meshed not separate. Net of practice-arrangement bundles. There are confederations of nets. Practices overlap – same actions, share organisational elements. How to analyse organisation: identify actions, identify practice-arrangement bundles of which part, identify wider nets to which tied (through commonalities, orchestration, chains of action, conflicts, material connections). Human action = primary source of change in practice arrangement bundles and nets. Rules, goals, actions, intelligibility, teleology, normativity = inherent in practices that are bundled together in organisations. Must also consider material arrangements, (humans artefacts, organisms and things). Ontologically allied with (though not same as) other micro-oriented approaches eg ethnomethodology, ANT. Individuals differentially incorporate organisation into their minds. In learning to participate in a practice individuals acquire versions of many though not all the mental states that organise it.

Schatzki T R (2006) The time of activity. Continental Philosophy Review 39(2), 155-182.

Quite good on intentionality, purpose, fleeting references to body, embodiment. Motion vs. movement, time vs. temporality. Thrownness (being in the world, situated, responsive to conditions) and projection (putting possible ways of being before oneself) – building on Heidegger. Time of activity = past, present and future at a single stroke (an important idea that is carried through to 2010, 2012). Mind and body coincide in present conscious sensation-action. Action is indeterminate, but the pre facto indeterminacy of action does not imply that action is post facto undetermined (see 2010).

Schatzki T R (2006) On organizations as they happen. Organization Studies 27(12), 1863-1873.

This is one of the more detailed discussions of time – objective time and activity time. Close reference to Heidegger, thrownness (being amid, including materiality) and projection. Also discusses practice / organisational memory. General understandings make an explicit appearance alongside practical understandings, rules and teleoaffective structures. Aspects of PU, R, TAS, GU that do not pertain to a particular action can be carried in (wide) practice memory. Temporal features such as rhythm and patterning. Organisational memory as sum of its practices.

Schatzki T R (2007) Martin Heidegger: theorist of space. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

This book represents a bit of a tangent, but also articulates in detail some of the major directions that are taken up in his later work, particularly around space and time. The book includes a review of Heidegger’s work with particular emphasis on time, thrownness, projection (and the clearing). It also elaborates some of Schatzki’s own take on these things. Tretter’s review* of this book, from a geographer’s perspective, highlights how Schatzki is indebted to Heidegger’s phenomenology, as well as the continuing influence of Wittgenstein and Dreyfus.

*Tretter E M (2008) A review of: ‘Martin Heidegger: Theorist of Space’. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98(4), 953-954.

Schatzki T R (2007) Introduction. Human Affairs 17(2), 97-100.

His guest editorial for a special issue. Describes practice theory as non unified, mentions Giddens, Bourdieu, Dreyfus. Activity as a core ontological category. Things that practice approach can be useful to understand: embodiment, nature of communication and learning, space and time as dimensions of human existence, structure and organisation of social order – all these can be and have been looked at from practice point of view.

Schatzki T R (2009) Timespace and the organization of social life. In F Trentmann & R Wilk (Eds) Time, consumption and everyday life: practice, materiality and culture. New York: Berg, 35-48.

This is a very complex paper, with a lot of concepts. Objective time and space are retained, but also human, lived, phenomenological timespace (action as temporalspatial). Lots about relations between timespaces: enjoining, overlapping, shared, common, orchestrated, idiosyncratic, interweaving, coordination, harmonization, aggregation (I wasn’t clear which lay at the core of the structure of concepts here, which refer to each other).

Schatzki T R (2010) The timespace of human activity: on performance, society, and history as indeterminate teleological events. Lanham, MD: Lexington.

This is the third of the main books on practice theory by Schatzki. By now, he has shifted his focus from practices to the activities that instantiate and uphold them. He incorporates much of his work on Heidegger about temporality and spatiality, and develops the theme of indeterminacy in much more detail. The body makes a significant appearance again. The links between practices and activities are not discussed in detail, but the few sentences about this can be taken seriously – they get picked up in his later work. The empirical example worked through this book is horse racing (and tours of their facilities) in Kentucky. Again this really only goes as far as giving a concrete example to his abstract concepts, and doesn’t show how apply his theory shows us something particularly different about the world. This argument remains at the ontological / philosophical level in his writing.

Schatzki T R (2010) Pippin’s Hegel on action. Inquiry 53(5), 490-505.

Here he is arguing that Heidegger and Wittgenstein (and his working of them) are better than Hegel as a basis for understanding action. He writes about indeterminacy of action, temporality (past, present future) and that determinacy comes from bodily action, context, and practices as carriers of understanding.

Schatzki T R (2010) Materiality and Social Life. Nature and Culture 5(2), 123-149.

This is both a very useful resource, particularly around materiality, but also potentially confusing given the shift in terminology (eg. he writes of social ontology rather than site ontology, and it’s not clear why). Whichever it is (social or site) it straddles the social-material boundary, with each not treated separately but as a dimension of the other. Critique of trend in social thought and sociology to theorise society as if materiality did not matter. He joins ANT, object-centred socialities (Knorr-Cetina), ontologies of science (Pickering) in attending to materiality – the chorus against its neglect. Human coexistence inherently transpires as part of nexuses or meshes (I don’t know why he’s changed the term from bundles, nor why he changes the term within this paper) of practices and material arrangements. He discusses his theory vs. ANT – his material arrangements resemble the networks of ANT, but practices (as he conceives them) have no pendent (equivalent) in ANT. Schatzki claims he is not ANT because of his constant attention to practices and to relations between practices and arrangements (ie. materiality). ‘Investigating social phenomena through my ontology directs attention to how practices and arrangements causally relate, how arrangements prefigure practices, how practices and arrangements constitute one another, and how the world is made intelligible through practices.’

This paper is really good on the role of materiality in social life, and relationships between practices and arrangements. Taking the role of the material first:

  1. Entities compose arrangements, that, with practices, compose social sites (artefacts = things shaped by human activity)
  2. Physical composition of things has significance for social affairs – uses, production = tied to physical properties; physical properties have bearing on existence of arrangements and practices – eg can make something easier or harder
  3. Flows  – stuff flows through practice arrangement bundles like viruses; materiality mediates – it is because of physical properties of hands, arms, eyes etc and handles, wheels etc that operates can dig holes.

Relations between practices and arrangements:

  1. Causality: both ways – in a leads to not brings about sense
  2. Prefiguration – present shapes the future – qualification of possible actions (makes easier/harder, obvious/ obscure, short/long)
  3. Co-constitution: either essential part (without which practice could not be carried out), or pervasively involved (non-essential but widespread, without which Practices would assume different shapes) – co-constitutive
  4. Material entities that make up arrangements are intelligible to humans who carry on practices amid them – ie. practical function or use is not inherent, stable property, but reflects the meanings or potential they present when taken up in practices. (My eg. A door handle can intelligible as a lever to open a door through the practices of door opening, but also as a rail from which to suspend a coat hanger through different practices.)

Schatzki T R (2012) A primer on practices. In J Higgs, R Barnett, S Billett, M Hutchings & F Trede (Eds) Practice-based education: perspectives and strategies. Rotterdam: Sense, 13-26.

This is a very useful overview of many key ideas, including the introduction to his practice theory and the broader practice theory family. He mentions learning as one of the key features of human life that is rooted in practices. Describes how practice theory is not individual ontology. Sayings are a subclass of doings, which also include thinking, imagining. The four organisers are there (practical understandings, rules, teleoaffective structures, general understandings). Nice description of relationships between activity/practice and materiality: causal, prefiguring, constitution, intention and intelligibility (this group of 5 is up from the group of 4 in 2005: constitution has been added). Can describe practice-materiality relations as thick, dense, spread out, compact. Time and space are essential features, what makes it activity not just occurrence. Past present future at single stroke (requirement and result of X being an activity and not an occurrence). Motivation is because of something already, and end or intention is towards something not yet. Spatiality is in terms of places and paths. Indeterminacy mentioned again. Hanging together through commonality (same ends, place-paths, enjoined in normative practice), shared (ditto but not enjoined), orchestrated (non-independent). Social development / change through emergence, persistence and dissolution of practice-arrangement bundles. Normative is powerful, we are sensitive to it. X only determines Y if (when, ie. in the moment) Y reacts to X. Novelty can burst forth at any time, but the norm is perpetuation. Establishing new practice arrangement bundles is big work – need new practical/general understandings, rules, teleoaffective structures, plus new relationships with (new) arrangements. Concludes by making explicit case for ethnography, or life history.

Schatzki T R (2012) Foreword. In P Hager, A Lee & A Reich (Eds) Practice, learning and change: practice-theory perspectives on professional learning. Dordrecht: Springer.

Practice theory been going for 3 decades now, abandoning concepts eg what is going on in people’s heads. Concepts that are deemed central to social life include materiality, knowledge, embodiment, learning change. The book construes learning as a process that continually transpires as practices are enacted. Also shows how social life exhibits considerable adaptation, innovation, new starts and emerging or dissipating configurations.

Schatzki T R (2013) The edge of change: on the emergence, persistence, and dissolution of practices. In E Shove & Spurling N (Eds) Sustainable practice: social theory and climate change. London: Routledge, 31-46.

NB. This chapter has been presented as a seminar paper at UTS Centre for Research in Learning and Change, Charles Sturt University Research Institute for Professional Practice Learning and Education.

Ontological description of activity as event, and rejection of continuous flow, but rather human life as continuous series of possibly overlapping activities (themselves discrete). Activity is temporalspatial, not because happens in time and space, but because of temporality (past present future at single stroke, motivation [past] and teleology [future]) and spatiality (arrays of places and paths anchored in material entities. Spatiality and materiality thus are closely related. Pertinence of materiality to activity: anchors places and paths, people react to materiality, negotiate material work, immediate settings connect to further ones, bodily performance (body as material). Then moves on to practice: open-ended spatial-temporal manifold of activities organized by practical and general understandings, rules, and teleoaffective structures. These organisations circumscribe and maintain activities, and shape timespaces of activity (enjoin commonality, underlie sharing, circumscribe orchestration etc). Practices and material arrangements link because activities composing practices can alter material arrangements, react to them, through causal relations, requirement of arrangements, people making sense of arrangements in specific ways in practices (intelligibility?), common, shared place-paths, dissemination of arrangements as practices spread. Then gets into emergence (by coalescence, new arrangements, bifurcation/hybridisation, lines of flight, new understandings etc), persistence (unity in difference, stability and evolution, storage, stabilisation of understandings and bodily repertoires, temporalspatial infrastructure, organisation, similar material arrangements etc) and dissolution (sudden/gradual, internal/external causes, bifurcation/hybridisation, new ends, irrelevance of practical understandings).

Other publications by Schatzki

Texts that have not been included in this bibliography (simply because I have not yet been able to read them):

  1. Natter J, Schatzki T R & Jones J P (Eds) (1995) Objectivity and its other. New York: Guildford Press.
    1. Natter J, Schatzki T R & Jones J P (1995) Contexts of objectivity. In Natter J, Schatzki T R & Jones J P (Eds) (1995) Objectivity and its other. New York: Guildford Press, chapter 1.
    2. Schatzki T R (1995) Objectivity and rationality. In Natter J, Schatzki T R & Jones J P (Eds) (1995) Objectivity and its other. New York: Guildford Press, chapter 8.
  2. Schatzki T R (2005) Early Heidegger on sociality. In H L Dreyfus & Wrathall M (Eds) A companion to Heidegger. Oxford: Blackwell, 233-247.
  3. Schatzki T R (2005) Book review: On interpretive social inquiry. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 35(2), 231-249.
  4. Schatzki T R (2006) On studying the past scientifically. Inquiry 49(4), 380-399.
  5. Schatzki T R (2009) Dimensions of social theory. In Vale P & Jacklin H (Eds) Reimagining the social in South Africa: critique and post-apartheid knowledge. Berea: University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 29-46.
  6. Schatzki T R (2011) Landscapes as timespace phenomena. In Malpas J (Ed) The place of landscape: concepts, contexts, studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 65-89.
  7. Schatzki T R (2012) Temporality and the causal account of action. In J Kiverstein & M Wheeler (Eds) Heidegger and cognitive science. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 343-364.
  8. Schatzki T R (forthcoming)”Practices, Governance, and Sustainability,”  in Social Practices, Intervention, Sustainability: Beyond Behavior Change, Yolande Strengers and Cecily Maller (eds), London, Routledge, 2014.
  9. Schatzki T R (2014)”Art Bundles,” Artistic Practices: Social Interactions and Cultural Dynamics, Tasos Zembylas (ed), London, Routledge, pp. 17-31.
  10. Schatzki T R (2013) “Activity as an Indeterminate Social Event,” in Wittgenstein and Heidegger: Pathways and Provocations,Stephen Reynolds, David Egan, and Aaron Weneland (eds), London, Routledge, 2013, pp. 179-94.
  11. Schatzki T R (forthcoming) “Practice Theory as Flat Ontology,”  in Praxistheorie. Ein Forschungsprogramm, Helmut Schaefer (ed), Bielefeld, transcript.
  12. Schatzki TR (2016) Keeping track of large phenomena. Geographische Zeitschrift, 104(1), 4-24.

13 thoughts on “Schatzki’s practice theory: an annotated bibliography

  1. Julia

    Thanks for a really useful posting. Halkier is useful in delineating one of the branching movements of Practice theory post Schatzki (towards an application in accounting for consumerism) .
    Halkier, Bente, Tally Katz-Gerro, and Lydia Martens. 2011. “Applying Practice Theory to the Study of Consumption: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations.” Journal of Consumer Culture 11 (1) (March 1): 3–13. doi:10.1177/1469540510391765.
    See also Warde, Alan, and Dale Southerton, ed. 2012. The Habits of Consumption. Vol. 12. COLLeGIUM of Studies Across Disciplines in the Humaniteis and Social Sciences. Helsinki: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.
    (available as an open source text)

  2. nickhopwood Post author

    Hi Julia
    Thanks so much for your generous sharing of those references – it’s really interesting to see where Schatzki’s theory is being taken up outside of my own field. I’ve just discovered a couple of other chapters that I missed in this one and will update the bibliography when I’ve had chance to read them.

    1. Julia

      Thanks Nick.
      Another of Schatzki’s not on your list, possibly because it is in an unusual place, is Schatzki, Theodore R. 2011. “Where the Action Is. (On Large Social Phenomena Such as Sociotechnical Regimes)”. Working Paper 1. Sustainable Practices Research Group.

      For an interesting read which locates practice theory in various ways with regard to how technology is considered, as well as noting how the field is dividing up with special attention to organisation studies; Leonardi, Paul M., and Stephen R. Barley. 2010. “What’s Under Construction Here? Social Action, Materiality, and Power in Constructivist Studies of Technology and Organizing.” The Academy of Management Annals 4 (1): 1–51. doi:10.1080/19416521003654160.

      Right at the moment, I’m interested in the crossover points between Karl Weick’s sense-making approach, Practice Theory and the two STS groups, Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) and Actor Network Theory (ANT), with particular emphasis on the construction of information technology use.

      1. nickhopwood Post author

        Thanks, Julia!
        I look forward to following up on those references. And when I do, I hope to incorporate them into an updated bibliography.

  3. frkhvass

    Thank you Nick:)
    your overview has been very helpful. I was trying to figure out if Schatzki’s theories could be useful for the project I’m in the beginnining of. We are two students looking into practices at a unit at a hospital in Denmark. In the process of deciding on theory – wich one to dig into this time, and what would fit, this reading has saved us a lot of time and worries. I am looking so much forward to reading A primer on practices and see how it will work with our nurses, doctors, doors, elevators, corridors and rooms. By the way I liked the picture with the doorknob.
    Thank you again

  4. mariemanidis2013

    Thanks for this (again) Nick. I’ve used it several times already and good to see that you’ve added some new ‘stuff’. Marie

  5. Ozzie


    A great resource. Just in the beginning stages of reading about the Practice Theory. Thinking of applying it to energy consumption patterns and energy conservation initiatives in a country. Any ideas? Thanks.

    1. nickhopwood Post author

      I’m glad you find it useful. I know that Schatzki did write about climate change (2012 paper I think?), and he has recently written about practice theory and large scale phenomena (I heard him give a seminar about it) – I don’t know if that paper is published yet. Let me know if you’re struggling to find it (or email Schatzki himself!)

  6. Joonas S.


    I’ve been doing some reading on practices and embodiment, encountered Schatzki’s work and then, a quick google later, stumbled upon your excellent bibliography. I just wanted to thank you for this resource, it’s an awesome quick overview on a large and interesting body of work, now to reading it myself!

    1. nickhopwood Post author

      My pleasure! I must admit now there are some recent papers that I haven’t read in depth, so the list isn’t as complete as it used to be! If you (or anyone else!) reads these latest papers by Schatzki and wants to offer a quick summary, then please send it in and I’ll publish it here with a due acknowledgement of course 🙂


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