Communities of Practice (CoP) by Etienne Wenger

Socio-cultural Perspective

Learning is a social process according to Wenger’s (1999) conceptual framework of understanding learning systems. Wenger explains that part of being human is the willingness or desire to form communities, and through these is the essential component of learning opportunity and process.

Community of Practice

A community of practice is formed by people interacting and sharing a process or passion of collective learning. Being part of this community is what Wenger (2000) calls “social learning systems, to create a view of knowing and practice as meaning”.  By partaking in a shared human endeavour, the working method community has purpose and shared interest.

Wenger uses the terminology of social competence and personal experience for social learning that is classified into three modes of engagement, imagination and alignment.

Keywords: social learning, community of practice, situated learning


Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge university press. [sample here]

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systemsOrganization, 7(2), 225-246.

Etienne & Beverly Wenger-Trayner. (2015) Introduction to communities of practice: A brief overview of the concept and its uses.