Writing-based interventions: from Communities of Practice to Life Stories

Campbell, Siobhan and Jensen, Meg (2020). Writing-based interventions: from Communities of Practice to Life Stories. Writing in Education(82) pp. 54–60.

URL: https://www.nawe.co.uk/DB/wie-editions/articles/fr...


This essay presents a theory of applied writing practice which recognises that shared workshops and shared experience of writing can create what Etienne Wenger has called communities of practice or CoPs (Wenger 1998: 73). We contend that participation within these workshops is a form of knowledge development, and that the description of what occurs during and as a result of participation leads to knowledge that can be shared. Such shared knowledge, moreover, can be seen to enhance emerging communities of practice through mutually beneficial social learning and further, it may also have impact on organisational adaptability and change.

In Section I, Campbell outlines how insights from writing workshops began to be understood by facilitators and participants as in fact developing communities of practice. Drawing on Wenger’s definition of CoPs, Campbell demonstrates how applying the tenets of Creative Writing as a discipline may generate the three elements Wenger identifies as emblematic: shared repertoires, mutual engagement, and continual (re)negotiation of joint enterprise (Wenger 1998: 73). In Section II, Jensen links these insights on the collaborative and knowledge-generating power of the writing workshop to Michael Polanyi’s trope of “indwelling,” thus demonstrating how narrated life experience dovetails into and enhances the strength and power of those communities so built.

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