Book Chapter

Sociomateriality and learning: a critical approach


Fenwick T (2015) Sociomateriality and learning: a critical approach. In: Scott D & Hargreaves E (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Learning. London: SAGE, pp. 83-93.

This chapter provides an introduction to perspectives that may be described as ‘sociomaterial’, discussing their premises and examples in educational research. These perspectives have been influenced by a range of theoretical families including actor-network theory and sociotechnical studies, complexity theory, new feminist materialisms, poststructural geographies, and others. The main premise they share is that there are no clear, inherent distinctions between social phenomena and materiality. Everyday practice is constituted through entangled social and material forces that continually assemble and reassemble. Objects, events, identities and knowledge are understood to be performed into being through these social and material relations. Effects such as capacity and ‘skill’ are understood to be distributed, not located as agency within human beings. One task for analysts is to trace just how these relations work: how human and more-than-human forces act upon one another in ways that mutually transform their characteristics and activity, how they produce assemblages that become stabilized, and sometimes become extended and powerful. Examples from research in education show how materials actively influence learning and teaching practices, how learning itself is a material matter, and how educational processes are in fact temporary sociomaterial achievements.

Publication date31/12/2015
Publisher URL…rning/book242764
Place of publicationLondon