Thematic Chapter 2 - Building relationships, building structure: Working together in research on out-of-school learning

Jo Rose, Liz Todd

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


This chapter discusses the different types of researcher/participant relationship described in the case study chapters, alongside the extent to which the projects were (and could be) pre-defined in terms of structure and expected outcomes. The case studies ranged from secondary data analysis methods with no researcher/participant contact, those with structured one-off interviews, those with more ongoing, but still researcher-led, relationships between researcher and participant, to more ethnographic and participatory research where relationships were negotiated between researcher and participant and, in some cases, led by the participants. This chapter highlights that researcher/participant relationships lie in parallel to the structure of the project, and the extent to which the outcomes are pre-defined. Despite the range of types of relationship, however, all the case studies highlighted the value of trust in those relationships, for participants to feel happy to share the details of their personal lives beyond that which is usually visible in the formal education setting of school. Edwards’ (2017a) concepts of relational agency, relational expertise and common knowledge are used to help explain why these relationships matter in research on out-of-school learning – to understand activities that we do not know about, that take places in spaces that we are unfamiliar with.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRepositioning Out-of-School Learning: Methodological challenges and possibilities for researching learning beyond school
EditorsJo Rose, Tim Jay, Janet Goodall, Laura Mazzoli Smith, Liz Todd
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2022

Publication series

NameEmerald Studies in Out-of-School Learning

Bibliographical note

Edited by Rose, J., Jay, T., Goodall, J., Mazzoli Smith, L. and Todd, L.

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Psychological Approaches for Studying Education


  • researcher relationships
  • Participant-led research
  • research structure
  • unpredictability
  • research outcomes
  • relational agency


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