Learning in the Permaculture Community of Practice in England: An Analysis of the Relationship between Core Practices and Boundary Processes

Article English OPEN
Ingram, Julie ; Maye, Damian ; Kirwan, James ; Curry, Nigel ; Kubinakova, Katarina (2014)
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Journal: The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension (issn: 1389-224X, vol: 20, pp: 275-290)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1080/1389224X.2014.887756
  • Subject: G1 | S1 | SB

This article utilizes the Communities of Practice (CoP) framework to examine learning processes among a group of permaculture practitioners in England, specifically examining the balance between core practices and boundary processes.\ud \ud The empirical basis of the article derives from three participatory workshops and 14 interviews with permaculture practitioners distributed across England.\ud \ud The research found that permaculture practitioners are informally bound together by shared values, expertise and passion for the joint enterprise of permaculture, thus corresponding to a CoP. It found that core practices (situated learning, mutual engagement, joint enterprise and shared repertoire) are strong but also that boundary processes are active, enabling learning and interaction to take place with other learning systems, although this tends to be restricted to those with similar perspectives. This, and the strong cohesion and identity of the CoP, leads to some insularity.\ud \ud Scholars propose that innovative groups can strengthen the conventional Agricultural Knowledge System (AKS). This research, however, shows that the potential for the permaculture CoP to integrate with the conventional AKS is limited due to its insularity and self-reliance, in that the Permaculture Association fulfils the role of information provision and network facilitation. Most opportunities for integration lay in facilitating brokerage and dialogue between members at the periphery of the permaculture CoP and the AKS.\ud \ud The research provides a critique on the use and value of the CoP framework in a new context and offers insights into how learning takes place in the permaculture community.
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