Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Reader/Committee Chair

Caroline Vickers


This project applies Community of Practice (CoP) theory to examine co-constructions of identity and membership within a Community of Practice based around the home brewing of beer. The study focuses on both the interactions of members with each other and within the community, as well as how the members display their membership and expertise while participating in their practice and acting as identifiable members of their community.

By observing members and their interactions as members of a community, this study attempts to both further the development and understanding of Community of Practice theory as well as gaining understanding of a community that is relatively new and lacking research into both their chosen practice and how they constitute their status as a community through social interaction. In studying this community, this work also observes how members interact with one another, as home brewers, as well as how they co-construct their identities based on their expertise with the practice of their community and their own identities as home brewers.

This study shows that members of the home brewing CoP go through extensive negotiation to position themselves as not being novices, while at the same time positioning professional brewers as the experts in their community, despite that such positions are not home brewers. Expertise of members is generally found to be based in the brewing practice, but is typically only associated through the product produced, as home brewing is a unique practice that does not require other members in order to actively participate in the community as a member. Members believe that the only dividing line for membership as a home brewer is to brew at home. All other factors are second to that main determining factor of membership.