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Issues Concerning Practice

  • Paul HagerEmail author
  • David Beckett
Chapter
Part of the Perspectives on Rethinking and Reforming Education book series (PRRE)

Abstract

Recent decades have seen practice theory emerge as an innovative way to understand all aspects of social life. This chapter investigates ‘practice’ and its cognate concepts. It demonstrates that significant unresolved issues that, as the previous chapter argued, surround the concept of agency, recur in the case of practice and related concepts. One major unresolved issue is that practice theories typically identify the various key components of a given practice, and then assert that, appropriately interconnected or related, these components constitute the practice. But the problem here is that ‘appropriately interconnected or related’ in effect ‘black-boxes’ relations. Rather than raising questions about the nature and kinds of relations involved, this black-boxing strategy reduces relations to an afterthought, as secondary to the various components (relata) that, summed together, are regarded as capturing the essence of the particular practice. This is why this approach fails to capture the holism of practices. A second major unresolved issue is that practice theories commonly focus unquestioningly on the individual practitioner as the unit of analysis. This is somewhat surprising since practices typically have significant social or group dimensions. This book goes on to argue that in general a practice cannot be adequately understood unless the group phenomena that significantly constitute it are taken into account. Part II (i.e. Chaps.  6 8) and Part III (i.e. Chaps.  9 and  10) of the book together provide a resolution of these two major issues.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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