On September 24th and 25th 2014 the Graduate School of the University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands presented a two-day conference on Practice Theories entitled ‘An Inquiry into theories of practice: Rethinking actors, materiality and organisations’.
During this conference central issues raised by practice theories were explored and discussed. The conference was a joint effort to reflect on our own practices as researchers in order to develop a stronger methodological awareness about knowledge creation as social practice.
Practice theories conceive actions of people as part of a practice, a larger set of activities. This means, for instance, that organisations are not regarded as entities but as an assembly of practices. In interaction, people ‘carry’ different practices. Practice theory gives us an alternative view on practitioners as well.
Not only people, but also material ‘objects’ are interacting, and therefore not ‘just objects’. Knowledge emerges from within interactive practices and theories of practice concentrate on the ethos of these practices. Practice theories offer another view on the social, valuing differences.
Key note speakers
Two leading key note speakers, prof. Davide Nicolini (University of Warwick, GB) and prof. Robert Schmidt (Eichstatt University, Germany), presented their thoughts and views on Practice Theories.
Prof. Dr. Davide Nicolini from the University of Warwick, GB. He discussed practice theories in
plural and the idea that practice theory is not a (new) school. The ‘family resemblances’ in the theories of practice however do offer explanatory power that other approaches were not able to offer.
Prof. Robert Schmidt from Eichstatt University, Germany. He explained what praxeology is about, drawing on Bourdieu and taking praxeology as a research strategy. Praxeology is a game changer with regard to several ethical and sociological approaches.
Both share a vivid interest with researchers at the University of Humanistic Studies in complex organisations, and thorough qualitative and conceptual research.
All lectures from the conference ‘An Inquiry into theories of practice: Rethinking actors, materiality and organisations’, organised by the Graduate School of the University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands on September 24th and 25th 2014, are available on the next page.