Curriculum Inquiry as a Contextualised Social Practice within an Activity System




curriculum inquiry, Activity Theory, green economy, semantics, knowledge building


In educational literature, ample curriculum models adopt product-oriented approaches based on linear, sequential design, review and renewal processes. Correspondingly, managerialism perspectives imposed by external and internal stakeholders, national policy frameworks and quality assurance mechanisms emphasise the technicalities of curriculum inquiry within a bureaucratic system as a means to an end. This paper aims to reposition curriculum inquiry as a contextualised social practice within an activity system. To this end, the six core elements of Engeström’s second-generation Activity Theory were used as an analytic lens to examine the activity system of a coursework-based master’s degree programme in a specialised field of study. This academic programme is a unique offering at a large research-intensive university, contributing to the ‘green’ economy in South Africa. Within this activity system, the existing curriculum of this academic programme constituted the unit of analysis. Curriculum documentation was used as the primary data source. The curriculum data was analysed using the semantics dimension of Maton’s Legitimation Code Theory (LCT). The results and findings of this analysis revealed tensions and contradictions within the activity system of this coursework-based master’s degree programme that constrain its inherent potential to equip students with professional expertise in climate change and sustainable development.


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How to Cite

Bester, Marianne. “Curriculum Inquiry As a Contextualised Social Practice Within an Activity System”. Progressio, 23 pages.



Themed Section 1
Received 2023-05-15
Accepted 2024-04-24
Published 2024-06-10