Practices are “arrays of human activities” or routine patterns of such activities; such practices exemplify or embody, among other things, attitudes, beliefs, skills and types of tacit knowledge (Schatzki, 2001; 2002). Beyond material culture, language may also be regarded as discursive in nature and, therefore, can also be considered a part of practice. Activities are mediated by artifacts, whether the latter are conceptual or material. The psychological make-up of the participants is constituted through practices.

Schatzi (2001) proposed that practices can be either individual and collective. Social macro structures constrain and organize contexts for a participant's activity, but do not completely determine that activity. Individual practices have a certain independence or degrees of freedom related to institutional practices. This makes human agency possible and, consequently, practices have psychological, rather than merely sociological relevance. Activity theory allows investigators to move flexibly between analyzing individual and collective activity systems and associated mediation. Human practices are characterized by diversity, variety and multi-voicedness. Often, currently marginalized phenomena or non-institutional innovative practices open expansive developmental possibilities.

See also Knowledge practices


Schatzki, T. (2001) Introduction: Practice theory. In T. Schatzki, K. Knorr-Cetinas, & E. von Savigny (Eds.), The practice turn in contemporary theory (pp. 1-14). London: Routledge.

Schatzki, T. (2002) The site of the social: A philosophical account of the constitution of social life and change. University Park, PA: Pensylvania University Press.

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