Productive Tension in Research Practice Partnerships: Where Substance and Politics Intersect

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The substantive and the political are part of most educational endeavors. Researchers tend to be cast as more powerful in interactions between research and practice. This structural historical hierarchy is at the backdrop of research-practice partnerships (RPP) and threatens to marginalize practitioners’ perspectives. Drawing on Bakhtin and Goffman and responding to a set of papers that transcend these structural constraints, I propose productive tension between alterity and affinity as a framework for analyzing and designing equitable and generative RPP. In broaching different design goals, set in different contexts, and employing different strategies, the papers in this special issue each depict a productive RPP in which all participants were able to contribute and influence each other, as well as advance efficacious and just educational programs. Part of RPPs’ contribution is having the values and practices of both research and practice intermingle and shape educational design and enactment. Therefore, what is needed is an interactional structure that invites participants to draw on their communities of affiliation while establishing a climate in which interactions operate on a level plane and each participant’s perspective is invited and valued, but open to face-saving modifications. I suggest that such conditions arise from a productive tension in the dialectic between alterity—the distinction between research and practice—and affinity—the kinship and identification with shared goals between research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-177
Number of pages7
JournalCognition and Instruction
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • General Psychology


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