Category Archives: Practice theory (Time, Space, Body, Things)

Questions, thoughts, comments, cool quotes, references about practice theory. Related issues of temporality, spatiality, embodiment, and materiality keep cropping up too

New chapter “The Fabric of Practices: Times, Spaces, Bodies, Things”

Hopwood N (2014) The fabric of practices: times, spaces, bodies, things. In L McLean, L Stafford & M Weeks (eds) Exploring bodies in time and space. Oxfordshire: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 137-146.

This chapter presents an initial laying out of the ideas I later developed in the paper for the Journal of Workplace Learning. The chapter dives more thoroughly into the empircal world of the parenting service that I studied in my last ethnography. It was initially presented at the Time, Space & Body conference in Sydney, February 2013.

The editors summarise the chapter:

Nick Hopwood illustrates body-space-time routines embedded in workplace practices of a Residential Unit within a child and family health service. Field observations revealed that spatiality and temporality are crucial aspects of practice and that these need to be thoroughly considered in order to create environments conducive to positive relations and effective care.

The abstract is below:

Here I connect the themes of space, time, the body, and things with an ethnographic study of professional practices and pedagogy. The study joins an emerging body of work that aims to produce different accounts of professional practice, eschewing dominant discourses based on problematic assumptions of linear time that is used up, space as a container for practice, practice and learning as mindful but bodyless, and materiality as either irrelevant or passive. The study was conducted in a child and family health service in Sydney, Australia. The Residential Unit of Karitane takes up to ten families for five days each week, offering intensive support for parents experiencing significant difficulties with their children’s sleeping, feeding or behaviour. Four themes of times, spaces, bodies, and things are discussed, drawing on Theodore Schatzki’s practice theory and philosophy, but also making connections to wider sociomaterial theorisations of time, space and the body. While these themes resist analytic separation, they are offered as distinctive points of departure, each highlighting something different about practices, pedagogy and learning. Nonetheless the porous conceptual boundaries between temporality, spatiality, embodiment and materiality are addressed and illustrated. The result is an account of practices, and their pedagogic effects, which differs radically from conventional approaches.

Key Words: Practice, materiality, sociomaterial, pedagogy, temporality, spatiality, embodiment, parenting.


A chance to see Schatzki in action! And some comments about learning, space, and time

Just a quick post, mainly share a link to a youtube video of Schatzki giving the Alexander von Humboldt Lecture ‘The spaces of practices and large social phenomenon’.

I’m fascinated by how questions of practice and space collide, come together, overlap. These are a big part of the book I’m writing at the moment.

Schatzki has in the past made strong links to Henri Lefebvre and his rhythmanalysis. I’m curious to see how these develop, and have a paper coming out soon in Studies in Continuing Education that has a Schatzkian basis but a primary attention to rhythms (as temporal and spatial phenomenon).

What do I take from this video?

How could practices ever be other than inherently spatial and temporal? (and by this I, and Schatzki, mean more than happening in space and time).

How could learning ever be other than inherently spatial and temporal? (with the same clarification). Learning is more than a chronological or sequential process. And learning is productive of and produced by spaces.

Schatzki isn’t an educational researcher – he’s a philosopher, so I (and others) have a big job to do in making his ideas relevant to questions of learning and pedagogy, or in exploring their potential relevance to our context.

Just some tasters of posts to come!

Podcast with Marie Manidis about practice, learning, knowing and ethnography


Just a quick written post today, to accompany a podcast in which I chat with Marie Manidis about practice, knowing, learning and ethnography. The references below are examples of texts written by the people we refer to in the podcast.

Lots of unanswered questions and things to take further here!


Bruni A, Gherardi S & Lucia Parolin L (2007) Knowing in a system of fragmented knowledge. Mind, Culture and Activity 14(1-2), 83-102.

Cook J & Brown S (1999) Bridging epistemologies: the generative dance between organizational knowledge and organizational  knowing. Organization Science 10(4), 381-400. 

Gherardi S (2006) Organizational knowledge: the texture of workplace learning. Oxford, Blackwell.

Gherardi S (2009) Knowing and learning in practice-based studies: an introduction. The Learning Organization 16(5), 352-359.

Gherardi S (2009) Introduction: The critical power of the practice lens. Management Learning 40(2), 115-128.

Strati A (2003) Knowing in practice: aesthetic understanding and tacit knowledge. In D Nicolini, S Gherardi & D Yanow (Eds) Knowing in organizations. Armonk, NY: M E Sharpe, 53-73.

Nicolini D, Gherardi S & Yanow D (2003) Knowing in organizations: a practice-based approach. Armonk, NY, M E Sharpe.

Orlikowski W J (2002) Knowing in practice: enacting a collective capability in distributed organizing. Organization Science 13(3), 249-273.

Strati A (2007) Sensible knowledge and practice-based learning. Management Learning 38(1), 61-77.

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

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.

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

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.

Yamauchi Y (2006) Knowing and not knowing in work practice: three ethnographic studies. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of California, Los Angeles.

Yanow D (2000) Seeing organizational learning: a ‘cultural; view. Organization 7(2), 247-268.