Pragmatic Learning Theory: An Inquiry-Action Framework for Distributive Consumer Learning in Online Communities



Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 36 (April), pp. 1058-1081, April (2nd Quarter/Spring) 2010


We examine consumer social learning from distributed capabilities in online communities. Using an inquiry-action framework rooted in pragmatic learning theory, we longitudinally trace community inquiry processes and their link to individual action in six health-related online communities. Our interpretive analyses reveal leaps and lapses of social learning. Generative learning is evident when collective productive inquiry is linked to expanding individual capabilities for action. Individual disengagement diverts inquiry and disrupts inquiry-action linkages creating lapses that degenerate learning. Within these extremes, instances of individual faltering are evident when inquiry is productive but individuals fail to leverage inquiry for empowered action.

Jagdip Singh