Relational Methodology

James Allen, Inna D. Rivkin, Joseph E. Trimble

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


Research in community settings, or field work, can be a challenging, lengthy, and even frustrating experience. The work can be especially difficult in ethnocultural communities when the researcher is working with the deep cultural lifeways and thoughtways of people who are different. Such challenges can be eased through use of certain principles and philosophies associated with the way research is conducted. This chapter introduces these principles and philosophies, which constitute elements of a relational methodology for applied research. This chapter highlights the central relevance of relational methodology in research with ethnocultural communities through focus on research with Indigenous communities. Over the past fifty years, a robust emergent literature has developed in these communities, placing them at the forefront of developments in relational methodology. In the introductory section a definition of relational methodology is offered and then some of its various implications are explored. Implications extend to the responsibilities of the researcher, nature of the research relationship, time spent in the research process, and validity and nature of the knowledge produced by the research. The final section emphasizes selected ethical principles underlying relational methodology that are associated with its collaborative research approach and the role of principled cultural sensitivity. These research ethics guide and shape relational methodology. The intent is to define relational methodology as a critical, core, and often neglected component of research methods in studies with ethnocultural communities and other communities experiencing disenfranchisement, disparities, and inequities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCultural Methods in Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationDescribing and Transforming Cultures
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9780190095949
ISBN (Print)9780197601273
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2022.


  • American indian and alaska native
  • Cultural methods
  • Indigenous
  • Relational methodology
  • Research ethics
  • Research methods


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