Provoking Change – The Role of Research in Institutional Learning and Organisational Change

  • Ken JohnstonEmail author
Part of the Methodos Series book series (METH, volume 9)


Negotiated ethnographic research in schools serving economically disadvantaged and culturally diverse communities has a dual purpose. Firstly, it uncovers the frameworks of meaning and the social and educational practices that create and sustain patterns of inequality in student participation and learning. Secondly, at the same time, the researchers work collaboratively with the research subjects (students, teachers, and principals) to change the institutional practices that hinder or diminish the quality of learning made available to the students. This chapter brings to light some of the complexities that arise when the researcher blends the roles of research and professional development. It explores the tensions that arise in the course of research, and the institutional resistances that arise within these very difficult school settings to insulate and reduce the process of school change. The chapter suggests several methodological and theoretical reformulations to the negotiated ethnographic approach that might help overcome some of these difficulties.


  1. Bourdieu, P. (2003). Firing back: Against the tyranny of the market 2. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Connell, R. W. (1982). Making the difference: Schools, families and social division. Sydney NSW: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  3. Engestrom, Y. (2001). Expansive learning at work: Towards an activity-theoretical reconceptualisation. Journal of Education and Work, 14, 133–156.Google Scholar
  4. Engestrom, Y. (2004). New Forms of Learning in co-configuration work. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16, 11–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums. Anchor Books, Doubleday & Co.Google Scholar
  6. Hayes, D., Johnston, K., & King, A. (2009). Creating enabling classroom practices in high poverty contexts: The disruptive possibilities of looking in classrooms. Pedagogy Culture and Society, 17(3), 251–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Skeggs, B. (2001). Feminist ethnography. In P. Atkinson, A. Coffey, J. Delamont, J. Lofland, & L. Lofland (Eds.), Handbook of Ethnography (pp. 426–442). NewYork: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Snow, D. Morrill, C., & Anderson, L. (2003). Elaborating analytic ethnography: Linking fieldwork and theory. Ethnography, 4(2), 181–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Thomas, J. (1993). Doing critical ethnography. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Willis, P. (1977). Learning to labour. Farnborough: Saxon House.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education and Social WorkUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations