1st Edition

Learning as Social Practice Beyond Education as an Individual Enterprise

    198 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    198 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book studies learning as a social enterprise, contextually situated, organized and assessed. It gives a broad theoretic grounding for an understanding of learning which goes beyond a common reductionist approach. The book discusses four related approaches to learning which share a social perspective: social semiotics and multimodality; a design-theoretic approach to learning; a socio-cultural perspective; and a perspective of mimetic learning.

    Contributing authors consider the theoretical question of how to understand educational systems, learning and social communication as historically situated practices. The chapters in this book analyze key working practices including: 

    • analyzing what learning, remembering and cognitive work is like in a practice involving different kinds of expertise;
    • problem-solving and engaging through collaboration;
    • learning and teaching in different formal, semi- and non-formal environments;
    • a design-theoretic approach to learning;
    • social semiotic perspectives on learning; 
    • the mimetic and ritual dimension of learning;
    • how social learning can be organized to support students;
    • how learning has been conceptualized in psychology and neighbouring research areas.


    This book will be of great interest to students and researchers interested in learning and meaning-making, multimodal representations and communication, designs for learning, education and teaching, and social achievement in different formal and non-formal contexts.

    In memoriam Gunther Rudolf Kress (1940–2019)

    Introduction: The social significance of learning

    Chapter 1. Our business is problem-solving: Learning, remembering and inscriptions at the IT helpdesk

    Chapter 2. Designs for learning – designs in learning

    Chapter 3. A social semiotic perspective on learning: Transformative engagement in a changing world

    Chapter 4. Learning as a performative social process. Mimesis, ritual, materiality and subjectivation

    Chapter 5. The conceptualization of learning in learning research: From introspection and conditioned reflexes to meaning-making and performativity in situated practices


    Gunther Kress (1940–2019) was Professor of Semiotics and Education at UCL Institute of Education, UK.

    Staffan Selander is Professor Emeritus in Education at the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (DSV) at Stockholm University, Sweden.

    Roger Säljö is Honorary Doctor at the University of Turku, Finland and the University of Agder, Norway and Honorary Professor at the University of Bath, UK.

    Christoph Wulf is Professor of Anthropology and Education at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.