Sustainable relationships as prevention against threats and violence

Spaces in-between

Project (2012-2014) financed by AFA Insurance

Today, threats and violence constitute an increasing problem in schools. Studies show that the quality of teacher-student relationships has bearing on student learning, motivation, engagement etc. Teachers have a responsibility for building and sustaining relationships with their students - but also between students - that are safe and promote such educational goods. In order to achieve educational relationships teachers employ relational practices, which requires relational professionality. Studies show that informal situations and contexts may be of great importance for the creation of teacher-student and student-student relationships in institutions. Hence, there is reason to employ a spatial perspective for inquiring into relational practices in schools.

In an earlier article (Frelin & Grannäs, 2010), we found that both teachers and students tend to make use of informal situations when they negotiate relationships, and that these relationships may serve as a bridge into student learning in formal situations. This project focused on relational practices within school but outside of the classroom, and how these promote a safe and educational environment.

A year-long case study was conducted during the 2012-13 school year at a secondary school that had recently been renovated and was working to improve the school environment. Multiple data sources were used, including document analysis, mapping, contextual observations and interviews. Official statistics, newspaper articles and school quality reports were used to contextualize the case (Creswell, 2009). Our focus has been on how, when and where relationships are built and sustained through negotiations in informal contexts.

More information

Anneli Frelin, Ph D. and Jan Grannäs, Ph D., University of Gävle. Faculty of education and business studies  Phone: Anneli: + 46(0)26648143, mobile: +46(0)703178514. E-mail: Jan: + 46(0)26648497, mobile: +46(0)705181515. E-mail:

Research group: STORIES

International advisors for this project

Professor Gert Biesta
Professor Jan van Tartwijk
Professor Peter Gill


National journals

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (2014) Trygga möten i skolans mellanrum. Elevhälsa, 3.

Frelin, Anneli, Gershon, Walter S. & Grannäs, Jan (2014). Marknadsstyrning skapar oönskade elever. Pedagogiska magasinet, 2.

International peer-reviewed articles

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (2015). Direct and indirect educational relationships. Developing a typology for the contribution of different categories of school staff in relation to students’ educational experience.  Improving Schools, 18(1), 56-68.

Frelin, Anneli, & Grannäs, Jan (2014). Studying relational spaces in secondary school. Applying a spatial framework for the study of borderlands and relational work in school improvement processes. Improving Schools, 17(2), 135-147.

Frelin, Anneli, & Grannäs, Jan (2013). The production of present and absent presences in education. Journal of Pedagogy, 4(2), 139-161.

Internationella peer-reviewed chapters

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (2014). Navigating middle ground: A spatial perspective on the borderlands of teacher-student relationships in secondary school. I Zandvliet, David, den Brok, Perry, Mainhard, Tim & van Tartwijk, Jan (eds.) Interpersonal Relationships in Education: From Theory to Practice (57-70). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

International conference presentations

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (accepted).Using a Spatial Perspective to Explore the Creation of Safe School Environments. Paper to be presented at the 2015 AERA Annual Meeting, Chicago, USA.

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (accepted). Educational environment or surrounding? Education support professionals and the atomistic logics of school governance. Paper contribution to the Symposium: The presence of educational environments: Exploring conditions for action and the dynamics of practice in relation to various educational purposes at the AAACS conference, Chicago, USA.

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (2015). Highlighting indirect functions - Implications of using an ecological understanding for exploring safe educational environments. Paper contribution to the Symposium: Revisiting the notion of educational environments - different perspectives on purpose, practice and conditions for action at the NERA conference, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Grannäs, Jan & Frelin, Anneli (2014) Using a spatial perspective for analyzing teachers’ task perception in the educational environment. Paper presented at the 2014 AARE-NZARE annual international conference, Brisbane, Australia.

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (2014). In the face of Neo-Liberalism. Public educators and resources for defending a democratic discourse. Paper presented at the 2014 AERA Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, USA.

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (2013). Direct and Indirect Educational Relationships: the Varying Significance of Content in School Relationships. Paper presented at the 2013 AARE annual international conference, Adelaide, Australia.

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (2013). Results and accountability - Marginalization of the educational interpersonal space. Paper presented at the 1st European Conference on Curriculum Studies, October 18-19, Braga, Portugal.

Grannäs, Jan & Frelin, Anneli (2013). Concerns and student back-up in the common areas in school. The significance of the borderlands. Paper presented at the NERA 41st Congress, March 7th to 9th, 2013, in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Frelin, Anneli & Grannäs, Jan (2012). Navigating Middle Ground – A Spatial Perspective on the Borderlands of Teacher-Student Relationships in Secondary School. Paper presented atICIRE, Vancouver, Canada.

Published by: Zara Lindahl Page responsible: Svante Brunåker Updated: 2018-10-12
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