AAR #4 Esrey

Karen Handley’s essay “Within and Beyond Communities of Practice: Making Sense of Learning Through Participation” defines communities of practice as well as explores them in detail. Handley breaks the idea of situated learning into three key requirements: participation, identity and practice. She defines participation as referring “not just to local events of engagement in certain activities with certain people, but to a more encompassing process of being active participants in the practices of social communities and constructing identities in relation to these communities” (643). For Handley, an individual is not truly participating just by acting, and need to have full consciousness while acting, “as well as (make a) connection” (643). Handley helps define identity by breaking it up into two processes: regulation from or through an organization, and continuous revisions to perceptions of self. Finally, she stresses that the last requirement, practice, “is always social practice” and always advances an individual’s understanding of the subject (644). This strategy helps scholars discover strategies of learning easier and discover their respective communities. Handley uses a multitude of rhetorical devices in her essay, but her most impactful is allusion. Specifically, her most impactful allusion is the one she makes with scholarship.
Handley alludes to scholarship because she knows her target audience are scholars. An obvious statement would be that these scholars are extremely interested in scholarship and how to improve it, but Handley looks at that idea under an amplified lense. Her definitions of terms are especially acute, but so are her suggested strategies. Participation, for example, seems to be a simple idea for most scholars, but Hanley looks at it differently. Full participation, Hadley argues, is the goal that every scholar should strive for because it is “for oldtimers who participate at the core of the community” (649). This alludes to respected scholars who have not only necessarily their MDA’s, but are viewed as influential leaders in their fields or “communities” (649). These leaders are active researchers and teachers in their communities compared to scholars who are “peripheral (for newcomers permitted to participate to a limited extent in simple, relatively discrete tasks and relationships)” participants (645). This allusions shows new scholars, particularly students, that they indeed have a place in their fields of practice and are able to rise in the ranks.
The idea of true scholarship implies unbound knowledge, and Hadley addresses this. She describes “that the site for the development of identities and practices is not solely within a community of practice but in the spaces between multiple communities” (650). This implores scholars to widen their scholarly vision into other fields to strengthen or develop their own. These ideas of participation, identity and practice, and Handley’s allusions to scholarship exemplify how scholars should approach their work in order for it to be the most effective.

Handley, Karen, Andrew Sturdy, Robin Fincham, and Timothy Clark. “Within and Beyond Communities of Practice: Making Sense of Learning Through Participation, Identity and Practice*.” J Management Studies Journal of Management Studies 43.3 (2006): 641-53. Web.