Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 12, August 2006

Justin Charlebois

Community of Practice Involvement Obligations


One way of studying group involvement is through the paradigm of communities of practice (CofP) (Lave 1988, Lave & Wenger 1991). Students on university campuses are simultaneously members of various CofPs. This article investigates the CofPs Japanese students were involved in while studying in the United States. It found that the whole notion of CofP involvement is framed (Bateson 1972; Tannen & Wallet 1993) differently by Japanese. Specifically, the Japanese frame for attendance obligations and appropriate behavior is tighter (Goffman 1963) than that of their American counterparts. The results of this study suggest that what constitutes good demeanor is different in both societies and highlights the cultural relativity of frames regarding community of practice involvement. (community of practice, frame, obligations, expectations, deference, demeanor, tightness, looseness, giri, ninjo,omote, soto, uchi, ura).

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