Using practice theories to understand, analyse and articulate followership in early childhood education sites

Melinda Brooker, Tamara Cumming, Andi Salamon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article delves into a methodological approach that challenges traditional followership and leadership research. It presents the application of Nicolini’s theory-method package, involving three tools of theory, methods, and vocabularies to articulate data. The theory-method package is a valuable tool for researchers in Australia and globally employing a practice-based approach to study work practices and educational systems. The package was used to analyse and articulate followership practices by integrating followership theories, multi-site ethnography, the theory of practice architectures and reflexive thematic analysis. Through these innovative lenses, the study provides fresh insights into how followership is practiced in early childhood settings. Notably, it challenges established leadership theories by emphasizing the multidimensional intricacies of followership practices, which extend beyond traditional leader-follower relationships. The study underscores the importance of choosing appropriate theories and methods when examining social practices within education systems. It highlights the value of adopting a practice lens to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of followership. This research both advances understandings of followership and identifies broader implications for the study of followership in educational contexts. It also highlights the need to navigate the seductive allure of theories and to embrace reflexive trepidations as part of the analytical journey.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 2024


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