A Case Study in Practice Architecture

Learning, Reflection, and Action in Community Development


  • Michael Bernhard Goethe-University Frankfurt
  • Christa Van Daele University of Waterloo, Conrad Grebel University College




community development, adult education, practice theory, critical pedagogy, Ivan Illich


This paper investigates a trajectory of forty years of evolving practices in grassroots community development in southwestern Ontario. We present it as a case study that yields fresh perspectives in socially transformative ways of knowing and discovering. In doing so, we aim to elucidate traditions in adult education and social transformation that have ‘flown under the radar.’ Our analysis is based on hermeneutic analysis of written sources. Taking a practice theory perspective, we explore the practice architectures, i.e. the cultural-discursive arrangements, material-economic arrangements, as well as social-political arrangements that enable or constrain the learning of and participation in particular practices that contribute to social innovation. Our findings suggest that the application of a practice theory framework to the complex and often unarticulated work of community development aids in bringing to light the creative ways in which the associated practices emerge, get shaped and acquired. We will conclude by discussing implications for adult learning and community development.

Author Biography

Michael Bernhard, Goethe-University Frankfurt

Faculty of Education – Department of Adult and Further Education




How to Cite

Bernhard, M., & Van Daele, C. (2023). A Case Study in Practice Architecture: Learning, Reflection, and Action in Community Development. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 35(02). https://doi.org/10.56105/cjsae.v35i02.5672