A structuration approach to online communities of practice

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Rosenbaum, Howard; Shachaf, Pnina
Online communities; Web 2.0; socio-technical approaches; structuration; online communities of practice; mediated communication; social informatics
article description
This paper argues that the concept of communities of practice can be usefully grounded in a structuration approach and used to guide investigation into the dynamics of these communities. Points of contact between structuration and communities of practice are explored; the concept of structuration informs processes of identity formation and maintenance in communities of practice, the duality of structure informs dualities of participation and reification in CoP and social practices play a fundamental role in both approaches. The resulting concept is based on an assumption that research on online communities should take into account social, technical, and contextual factors. It adds theoretical depth and richness to sociotechnical approaches to studying online communities of practice.