Comparison between Cultural Historical Activity Theory, Actor-Network Theory and Complexity Theory

Last summer, I was looking into these 3 theories as prime candidates to examine the relationships and the evolution of the relationships between a group of teachers in a 4-year online professional learning community and never got around to sharing this. I really wanted to understand what made these 3 theories different to get a grasp on what each one could bring to the data.

Each of these theories deals with people and physical/abstract things that interact in complex ways around learning. From these interactions, agency, leadership, power, trust, reflection, arise in different ways and contribute to the learning experience.

In her article, The matter of learning: socio-material approaches to learning research in HRD, Fenwick (2010) examines the similarities and differences between these 3 theories in an analysis workplace learning, and I’ve put the information in this handy chart for your viewing pleasure, dear readers.

Are any of you using these frameworks for your research? Have you tried applying them to your data? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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