Benjamin Kyneswood

Doctoral researcher, School of Social Policy

PhD Programme, Institute of Applied Social Studies


School of Social Policy
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham

Year started: 2011
F/T or P/T: Full time
Supervisor(s): Pete Alcock and Marion Bowl

Research topic

'Informal social learning amongst young volunteers: a case study of community radio broadcasters'


  • MA (Social Research) Social Policy, University of Birmingham
  • MA English Literature, St Andrews
  • NVQ3 in Adult Education

Background and professional experience

I trained as a radio producer and worked for 10 years, principally in the community media sector. I volunteered at the Third Sector Research Centre for six months to understand what it took to be a working academic. From this I applied for, and was awarded, a studentship.

Teaching/training experience

  • Taught media in FE colleges
  • Taught radio production skills in community radio sector
  • Seminar leader and tutor on the BA Introduction to Social Policy

Research Overview

I explore informal social learning processes amongst young (14-19) volunteers. I am using the community radio sector as a case study.

Informal social learning may take place where young volunteers come together to work collectively on a shared project outcome without supervision. It can therefore be seen as a type of learning that is distinct from curriculum and teacher-based formal learning. It may be described as 'incidental' (Foley, 1999); where information gathering is not an objective of education in itself but rather as having a purpose towards another goal - in my research case study that goal is radio broadcasting. Young radio broadcasters therefore learn more than how to broadcast.

We may then ask what is this 'more' they learn, how does it occur and what is its purpose? The 'more' may involve notions of identity, cultural and political awareness and social skills. Young people often leave a period of volunteering claiming benefits (more self-confidence, enhanced CV, improved skillset, new friends) but the processes by which these benefits are accrued are less understood.

To explore these informal social learning processes I will be following 15 young volunteers over a six month period as they broadcast. They will keep blogs as research diaries to describe context and complete broadcast running orders to examine broadcasting more specifically. I will also observe their broadcasting and interview them.

Conference papers

Informal Social Learning Amoung Young Volunteers in UK Community Radio: CMFE Conference, Nicosia, Cyprus, November 2011


Kyneswood, B (2011), 'The ethics of research with children and young people: a practical handbook', Evaluation and Research in Education. 10.1080/09500790.2011.584381.


Doctoral Researcher