Exploring below the radar: issues of theme and focus

Working Paper 8

This paper explores different dimensions of below the radar (BTR) activity and some of the key variables that need to be considered. It seeks to define what we mean by ‘below the radar’ activity and identify different radars that might form the focus of research. 

It is clear from discussion around BTR activity, that it is necessary to move beyond simplistic definitions that focus on registration to a more sophisticated approach encompassing a range of different radars. Similarly, there is a need to move away from a deficit model, which makes negative assumptions about what it means to be ‘below the radar’.

We have tried to develop a sampling frame to differentiate BTR activity from more mainstream activities being researched by other work streams. We want to ensure that small community based actions are also included in the economic/impact, service delivery and social enterprise elements of TSRC research.

Our exploration of the characteristics of below the radar activity culminates in a series of issues to be researched further, rather than reaching definitive conclusions.  Our understanding, and classification, of such activity will evolve, as we use theoretical and empirical knowledge to inform our thinking.  Thus, while we have outlined our initial thoughts around defining BTR activity, we expect this thinking to be influenced by the findings from our fieldwork. 


The next step for the BTR work stream is to develop a methodology to explore the full range of BTR activity sketched out in this paper. 

Research contacts

Angus McCabe

Jenny Phillimore