A sixth group that I joined consisted of women who made embroidered pictures and lived in a working-class neighborhood in Maud, in south-eastern Santiago, that was slightly too well-off to be called a shantytovm, and whose inhabitants did not think of themselves as living in a shantytown, and for these reasons I did not examine data from this group for the book.

These groups accepted me as a participant observer, in which role I watched their work and helped as much as I could without changing what they normally did. I observed them for a year, except in the case of one of the groups of women from southern Santiago, which I observed for two months. Even though I concluded the participant observa-tion five years after Pinochet stepped down, the data gained were still pertinent to this book, as they enabled me to learn about the shantytowns and shantytown family life.

Source: p 13, Surviving Dictatorship: A Work of Visual Sociology By Jacqueline Adams

Does in which + noun = a noun in which? Even if so, more generally, what are the structures and syntax behind in which + noun? in which is a relative pronoun, right? So how can a noun follow it?

  • Which is a relative pronoun. In is a preposition. In which <noun> is a prepositional phrase, not much different from "In which box the ball is, I am not going to tell you".
    – oerkelens
    Oct 22, 2014 at 11:07
  • In 1970, he met Smokin' Joe Johnson in the ring, in which fight he suffered a broken nose and a concussion. = ...a fight in which he suffered..."
    – TimR
    Oct 22, 2014 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


Which in this case acts as an adjective/determiner, not as a pronoun. You may think of it as a relative counterpart to this or that:

These groups accepted me as a participant observer. In that role I watched their work.

Which exhibits the same dual use as an interrogative:

WhichDET role did you play? ... WhichPRO did Larry play?

Many determiners have this dual use:

ManyDET determiners have this dual use. ... ManyPRO have this dual use.
ThisDET pattern is common in English. ... ThisPRO is common in English.
WhatDET difficulty do you find here? ... WhatPRO do you find here?

  • 1
    Is " a participant observer. which role I watched in their work" correct?
    – Dinusha
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:38
  • 1
    @Dinusha No, that would mean that you looked at the role! What is meant by in which role is that you acted in the role just named (participant observer) and in that role you watched their work. Oct 22, 2014 at 17:05
  • 1
    "a participant observer, in whose role I watched their work" and "a participant observer, whose role I watched in their work" aren't right?
    – Dinusha
    Oct 22, 2014 at 17:36
  • 2
    Here,Is that a relative pronoun or a determiner ?
    – Dinusha
    Oct 22, 2014 at 18:19
  • 2
    @Dinusha A determiner; in traditional grammar, a demonstrative adjective. Oct 22, 2014 at 18:21

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