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The Practice Archipelago

May 13, 2008

On the way back from the SOAS symposium on media theory and practice, I got thinking about whether it may be helpful to visualise modern fields of practice (see Schatzki 2001) – e.g. journalism, acupuncture, rock-climbing – as small islands in a huge Pacific Ocean made up of numerous archipelagos, large and small. Each island (= field of practice) belongs to a larger set but in between any two islands we find widely varying expanses of sea, from a few dozen yards connected via a bridge to thousands of miles that will never be bridged, though they can be reached via air or sea travel.

As Warde (2005) says, fields of practice, like the ‘social worlds’ discussed in the academic literature by that name, have within them practitioners whose experience in, and commitment to, the field will range from being a leading insider to a complete outsider, through being an ordinary insider, a regular, a tourist, etc.

So for ‘dual practitioners’ who are seeking to develop careers both in the media industry and in academia, the challenge would seem to be how to commute within the Media Practice Archipelago for long enough to establish a strong presence in their two fields of choice, e.g. practising journalism and teaching journalism. There will obviously be a heavy cost incurred in maintaining this dual presence, and this will have to be offset by the rewards being derived – financial, psychological, social, etc.

What do other people think?


Schatzki, T. R. (2001) ‘Introduction: Practice theory’ in The practice turn in contemporary theory. T. Schatzki, K. Knorr-Ketina, and E. Von Savigny (eds). London: Routledge .

Warde, A. (2005) `Consumption and Theories of Practice’, Journal of Consumer Culture 5(2),  pp. 131-54.



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