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Re-thinking the boundaries of the focus group: A reflexive analysis on the use and legitimacy of group methodologies in qualitative research

Re-thinking the boundaries of the focus group: A reflexive analysis on the use and legitimacy of group methodologies in qualitative research

Caretta, Martina Angela and Vacchelli, Elena (2015) Re-thinking the boundaries of the focus group: A reflexive analysis on the use and legitimacy of group methodologies in qualitative research. Sociological Research Online, 20 (4):13. ISSN 1360-7804 (Online) (doi:10.5153/sro.3812)

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Abstract

This article aims at problematizing the boundaries of what counts as focus group and in so doing it identifies some continuity between focus group and workshop, especially when it comes to arts informed and activity laden focus groups. The workshop[1] is often marginalized as a legitimate method for qualitative data collection outside PAR (Participatory Action Research)-based methodologies. Using examples from our research projects in East Africa and in London we argue that there are areas of overlap between these two methods, yet we tend to use concepts and definitions associated with focus groups because of the lack of visibility of workshops in qualitative research methods academic literature.

The article argues that focus groups and workshops present a series of intertwined features resulting in a blending of the two which needs further exploration. In problematizing the boundaries of focus groups and recognizing the increasing usage of art-based and activity-based processes for the production of qualitative data during focus groups, we argue that focus groups and workshop are increasingly converging. We use a specifically feminist epistemology in order to critically unveil the myth around the non-hierarchical nature of consensus and group interaction during focus group discussions and other multi-vocal qualitative methods and contend that more methodological research should be carried out on the workshop as a legitimate qualitative data collection technique situated outside the cycle of action research.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Focus group discussion, Workshop, Participation, Feminist critical research
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities
Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities > Department of History, Politics & Social Sciences
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2017 16:57
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: GREAT b
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/16733

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