Scott Eacott’s relational approach offers a distinctive variant of the relational sociology project. By not fitting neatly into any one field, the relational approach arguably charts new territory and promotes important dialogue and debate for understanding the organizing as an activity.
Beginning in studies of educational leadership, the relational approach has since been mobilized to explore organizing in the professions, consolidated schools, supplementary education, Indigenous epistemologies, and future focused learning, among others. It has been central to multiple successful grants, over 45 publications, 21 conference papers, 10 theses, and is taught in masters and doctoral programs in Australia and Canada.
Described by Kim (2018) as a sophisticated analytical lens for in-depth epistemological and methodological inquiry, Niesche (2018) as providing ‘great insights into thinking differently and productively’ (p. 153), and Wallin (2016) as of ‘interest because it attempts to deal with the messiness and complexity of social organizations’ (p. 32), the relational is however not without critique. It has been debated in special issues of the Journal of Educational Administration and Foundations (2016, Vol. 25 No. 2) and Research in Educational Administration and Leadership (Vol. 4 Iss. 1).
The core argument of the relational approach is that relations have a reality of their own, not simply derived from something else (e.g., interactions) nor psychic or merely in the minds of observers. At its broadest, the relational approach is concerned with the constitution and emergence of organizing activity through relations. The three key concepts of the relational are: organizing activity, auctor, and spatio-temporal conditions. This website provides both an overview of the relational and keeps visitors up-to-date with activities of the broad research program.