This article is the first and introductory article of this special issue. The article gives a societist account of the principles of partnership and recognition as they are encountered and experienced in practices in action research. A societist account of practices requires a social theory for understanding practices. Therefore, the article utilises the resources of a contemporary form of practice theory, the theory of practice architectures and ecologies of practices, to lay down the foundation for conceptualising partnerships and recognition. Specifically, it introduces the theory as a foundation for the other articles in this special issue which, as a collective, examine the cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements that enable and constrain particular kinds of partnerships and recognition that exist or evolve in site-based education development. Additionally, the article presents theoretical considerations concerning the principles of partnership and recognition that emerge as enmeshments of one another which mutually form, reform and transform practices in action research.