In the 21st century, what role does interest play in the organization of equitable learning opportunities for young people? Drawing on a large corpus of interview data from a longitudinal study of fifty-four adolescents involved in interest-driven afterschool activities domestically and abroad, we investigate the role of youths’ interests in their everyday lives. Cognizant of the growing emphasis from sociocultural learning scholars on issues of interest, agency, and engagement as they relate to learning, we explore youths’ interests from their perspective—that is, we highlight the ways in which youth themselves made sense of their interests in relation to the rest of their lives. Informed by social practice theory, our analysis situates the interests articulated from the first-person perspectives of youth amidst the broader sociocultural situations from which they arose. Analysis of data reveals the material and social constitution of interest itself—and calls for increased attention to the interplay between social relations and material realities as key mediators of contemporary learning opportunities.


DiGiacomo, D. K., Van Horne, K., Van Steenis, E., & Penuel, W. R. (2018). The material and social constitution of interest. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 19, 51–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lcsi.2018.04.010

Download PDF