The elements of making: a social practice perspective for everyday creators

    Isabelle Risner Affiliation
    ; David Gauntlett   Affiliation
    ; Mary Kay Culpepper   Affiliation


In contrast to behavioural approaches that attempt to explain creativity, social practice theories commonly emphasize aspects of the material world that shape and reproduce how people engage with them. How might social practice theory clarify how making affects millions of hobbyist creators – and what makes making matter to them? This article examines the theoretical work tying creativity to social practice. It then reports on a project in which small groups of everyday creators in the United Kingdom (n = 95) gathered in workshops to discuss their experiences and opinions regarding the materials, meanings, and competences of making. A model-making research method instigated peer discussion revealing both individual and shared accounts of practice. The data indicated that participants, regardless of practice, experienced creating as an ongoing performance providing many benefits that promote personal and societal transformation. With our graphic iteration of the elements of making, we assert that the meanings these makers attached to their various do-it-yourself practices were underscored by the materials they worked with and the competences they built in creating.

Keyword : affordance theory, creativity, everyday creators, makers, social practice theory, sociomaterial culture

How to Cite
Risner, I., Gauntlett, D., & Culpepper, M. K. (2022). The elements of making: a social practice perspective for everyday creators. Creativity Studies, 15(2), 590–605.
Published in Issue
Sep 12, 2022
Abstract Views
PDF Downloads
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Amabile, T. M. (2017). In pursuit of everyday creativity. Journal of Creative Behavior, 51(4), 335–337.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

Culpepper, M. K. (2018). “Yeah, That’s What I Am Now”: Affordances, action, and creative identity. In L. Martin & N. Wilson (Eds.), Palgrave handbooks. The Palgrave handbook of creativity at work (pp. 107–124). Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Culpepper, M. K., & Gauntlett, D. (2021). Inviting everyday creators to make, think, and talk. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 42.

Daniel, R. (2021). Exploring creativity through artists’ reflections. Creativity Studies, 14(1), 1–17.

Ekvall, G. (1996). Organizational climate for creativity and innovation. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 5(1), 105–123.

European Commission. (2022). Digital do it yourself: Results.

Gauntlett, D. (2007). Creative explorations: New approaches to identities and audiences. Routledge.

Gauntlett, D. (2018). Making is connecting: The social power of creativity, from craft and knitting to digital everything. Polity Press.

Gherardi, S. (2017). Sociomateriality in posthuman practice theory. In A. Hui, Th. Schatzki, & E. Shove (Eds.), The nexus of practices: Connections, constellations, practitioners (pp. 38–51). Routledge.

Gibson, J. J. (1986). The ecological approach to visual perception. Routledge.

Glăveanu, V. P. (2012). Habitual creativity: Revising habit, reconceptualizing creativity. Review of General Psychology, 16(1), 78–92.

Glăveanu, V. P. (2017). Thinking through creativity and culture: Toward an integrated model. Routledge.

Glăveanu, V. P., & Tanggaard, L. (2014). Creativity, identity, and representation: Towards a socio-cultural theory of creative identity. New Ideas in Psychology, 34, 12–21.

Ingold, T. (2013). Making: Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. Routledge.

Jamone, L., Ugur, E., Cangelosi, A., Fadiga, L., Bernardino, A., Piater, J., & Santos-Victor, J. (2018). Affordances in psychology, neuroscience, and robotics: A survey. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, 10(1), 4–25.

Marcus, L., Giusti, M., & Barthel, S. (2016). Cognitive affordances in sustainable urbanism: Contributions of space syntax and spatial cognition. Journal of Urban Design, 21(4), 439–452.

Moeran, B. (2016). Anthropology and business: Crossing boundaries, innovating praxis. The business of creativity: Toward an anthropology of worth. de T. Waal Malefyt (Series Ed.). Routledge.

Nicholls, A., & Ziegler, R. (Eds.). (2019). Creating economic space for social innovation. Oxford University Press.

Paek, K.-M. (2019). The transformative potential of creative art practices in the context of interdisciplinary research. Creativity Studies, 12(1), 183–197.

Pilotta, J. J. (2020). Kinesthesia: The creative condition for health communication. Creativity Studies, 13(2), 449–459.

Pretz, J. E., & Nelson, D. (2017). Creativity is influenced by domain, creative self-efficacy, mindset, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. In M. Karwowski & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.), Explorations in creativity research. The creative self: Effect of beliefs, self-efficacy, mindset, and identity. J. C. Kaufman (Series Ed.) (pp. 155–170). Elsevier Inc.

Price, W. (2022). One of the world’s most popular kitchen tools was a complete fluke. Gear Patrol.

Reckwitz, A. (2002). Toward a theory of social practices: A development in culturalist theorizing. European Journal of Social Theory, 5(2), 243–263.

Rietveld, E., & Kiverstein, J. (2014). A rich landscape of affordances. Ecological Psychology, 26(4), 325–352.

Risner, I. (2013). The Integration of digital technologies into designer–maker practice: A study of access attitudes and implications [PhD/Doctoral Thesis, University of the Arts London]. London, United Kingdom.

Salvia, G. (2016). The satisfactory and (possibly) sustainable practice of do-it-yourself: The catalyst role of design. Journal of Design Research, 14(1), 22–41.

Schatzki, Th. R. (2001). Introduction: Practice theory. In Th. R. Schatzki, K. Knorr Cetina, & von E. Savigny (Eds.), The practice turn in contemporary theory (pp. 1–14). Routledge.

Schatzki, Th. R. (1996). Social practices: A Wittgensteinian approach to human activity and the social. Cambridge University Press.

Schatzki, Th. R. (2002). The site of the social: A philosophical account of the constitution of social life and change. The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Shove, E., & Pantzar, M. (2007). Recruitment and reproduction: The careers and carriers of digital photography and floorball. Human Affairs, 17(2), 154–167.

Shove, E., Pantzar, M., & Watson, M. (2012). The dynamics of social practice: Everyday life and how it changes. SAGE Publications.

Silvia, P. J., Rodriguez, R. M., Beaty, R. E., Frith, E., Kaufman, J. C., Loprinzi, P., & Reiter-Palmon, R. (2021). Measuring everyday creativity: A Rasch model analysis of the Biographical Inventory of Creative Behaviors (BICB) scale. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 39.

Warde, A. (2005). Consumption and theories of practice. Journal of Consumer Culture, 5(2), 131–153.

Withagen, R., & Kamp, van der J. (2018). An ecological approach to creativity in making. New Ideas in Psychology, 49, 1–6.

Yu, H., Zuo, Sh., Liu, Y., & Niemiec, Ch. P. (2021). Toward a personality integration perspective on creativity: Between- and within-persons associations among autonomy, vitality, and everyday creativity. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 16(6), 789–801.

Zelizer, V. A. (2011). Economic lives: How culture shapes the economy. Princeton University Press.

Ziegler, R. (2017). Citizen innovation as niche restoration: A type of social innovation and its relevance for political participation and sustainability. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 8(3), 338–353.