'Communities of practice are groups of people engaged in joint work, who are mutually engaged, and use a shared repertoire of practice. . . (they) create the space within which learning happens and meaning is co-constructed' (Curnow, 2016: 33).
My research is attempting to inquire into a matter of common interest, the shaping of publicness in the city of Limerick, and to experiment with forms of collective agency in order to counter the hegemonic individualism and competitiveness associated with neoliberal forms of governance (Davies, 2016).
Through the theoretical and practice-based research I am trying to understand the complex systems through which publicness is produced as a social, spatial and cultural process, looking at both dominant and counter-public forms.
Collective knowledge, collective actions and collective forms of meaning-making are integral to this inquiry. As such, it makes sense to work with social actors in the city to experiment with forms such as mutualism, reciprocity, co-production and other kinds of social relation that are not necessarily compatible with the neoliberal paradigm that I will argue is shaping the development of publicness in the city of Limerick.
Communities of practice emerge from my work in the field, through actions that bring me into contact with various social actors with whom common interests are identified. The principle informing these communities of practice is that they are voluntary associations, that they are of mutual benefit to participants and that they are known to be informing my research.
In some cases, through discussion, these communities of practice may lead to communities of praxis, where praxis refers to 'the co-production of thought and action' (Curnow, 2015: 35), forms of meaning-making through action.
Curnow, J. 2016, Towards a Radical Theory of Learning, Prefiguration as Legitimate Peripheral Participation, in Springer, S., De Souza, M.L. and White, R. (eds), 2016,The Radicalization of Pedagogy, London: Rowman and Littlefield, pp 27 - 49.
Davies, W. 2016, The New Neoliberalism, in New Left Review 101 (Sep-Oct 2016).