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Professional learning and the materiality of social practice

Journal article
Authors Åsa Mäkitalo
Published in Journal of Education and Work
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 59-78
ISSN 1363-9080
Publication year 2012
Published at The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 59-78
Language en
Keywords sociocultural theory, mediation, human activity, material-semiotic tools, professional knowledge
Subject categories Communication Studies, Pedagogy


This article addresses professional learning as intrinsic to social practices. It takes its point of departure in a sociocultural notion of mediation and communication in human activity and addresses the constitutive nature of language and artefacts as material-semiotic tools in the social coordination of perspectives and action, meaning-making and gap-bridging in professional work. The empirical examples are taken from different settings; an IT helpdesk team working in a multinational production company; vocational guidance officers working in a public employment office and from nurses at a rehabilitation ward in a hospital. The theoretical perspective is used when discussing these cases so as to display the use of the core concepts and the dynamics of change which may be illuminated by the analytical approach. In the conclusion, specific aspects of the materiality of social practice relevant for the study of learning and knowing in professional work are made salient.

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