Communities of Practice of Transition: an analytical framework for studying change-focused groups

Paechter, Carrie and Marguerite, Andolie. 2020. Communities of Practice of Transition: an analytical framework for studying change-focused groups. Sociological Research Online, ISSN 1360-7804 [Article]

Peachter and Marguerite (2020) Communities of Practice of Transition.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (128kB) | Preview
[img] Text
communities of practice of transition.pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (284kB)

Abstract or Description

In this paper we consider a previously unidentified form of community of practice: the community of practice of transition. Our exemplar data comes from two separate studies, one of a group for trans young people and one of an online divorce support community. Such communities differ from other communities of practice because the transition process itself is the focus and the shared practice of the community. We argue that communities of practice of transition differ from ‘classic’ communities of practice in four main ways. First, and most salient, there are differences in relation to time and its importance. Second, and following from this, there are differences in relation to the focus of trajectories into and through the group, which affect who is able to become a central member. Third, the role and characteristics of central members of the community are different from those found in a traditionally conceived community of practice: moving out of a transitional state (and therefore, out of the community) is key to old-timer status. Finally, reified events are highly salient in communities of practice of transition, and more important than reified objects. We argue that the concept of a community of practice of transition challenges and expands many of the assumptions underpinning the community of practice as a framework for analysing the dynamics and operation of groups and how identities are forged in and through them. Most significantly, we argue that time needs to be taken more seriously in relation to communities of practice.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



12 June 2020Accepted
5 August 2020Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 Apr 2021 10:55

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 05:04

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)