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Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, Second Edition by MARJORIE A. LYLES, MARK EASTERBY-SMITH

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The Becoming of a Practice and its Stabilization

A metaphor which aptly illustrates the way in which a practice emerges and is socially and materially sustained is that of climbing, as described by Hennion:

What climbing shows is not that the geological rock is a social construction, but that it is a reservoir of differences that can be brought into being. The climber makes the rock as the rock makes the climber. The differences are indeed in the rock, and not in the ‘gaze’ that is brought to it. But these are not brought to bear without the activity of the climb which makes them present. There is co-formation. Differences emerge, multiply and are projected. The ‘object’ is not an immobile mass against which our goals are thrown. It is in itself a deployment, a response, an infinite reservoir of differences that can be apprehended and brought into being.

Hennion (2007:100–1)

Hennion thus illustrates the relationship of co-formation between sociomateriality and identity, but he only alludes to the fact that the same relationship exists between the doing—climbing—and the knowing: that is, knowing how to read the rock, seeing the handholds that become such only at the moment when the climber sees them and makes them handholds for his or her next move. This knowing how to read the context as a ‘reservoir of differences,’ knowing how to identify the handholds for the next action, knowing what the next action will be (Garfinkel’s ‘what next,’ 1996), and possessing the vocabulary to talk ...

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