SOC 232 Lecture Notes - Focus Group, Symbolic Interactionism, Social Status

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Published on 13 Apr 2013
School
U of S
Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 232
Professor
Soc 232
March 15 2013
1
Focus groups
A moderator or facilitator
Several interviewees at once (four or more)
May bring out a wide variety of perspectives on an issue.
Brings out why people feel the way they do.
Naturalistic
Brings out how individuals collectively make decisions and interpretations.
(a premise of symbolic interactionism)
Interviewee’s may show conformity or become argumentative.
Challenging by other interviewees may result in more realistic accounts of
what people believe.
How many groups?
Usually about 10 to 15
More if necessary for demographics
Enough for theoretical saturation
Researchers can predict what will be said
Size of groups
Depends on the topic and the goals of the research
Morgan (1998): six to ten people
Smaller group if the topics are controversial, complex, emotional
Enlist people unknown to each other, or natural groups?
Natural groups: people who already know each other or already have had some
interaction.
May be appropriate, depending on the goals of the research.
E.g. Kitzinger (1993, 1994)
Useful if the research is actually about how social interaction occurs.
Disadvantages:
Pre-existing styles of interaction or status hierarchies may affect the
discussion.
The group may have taken-for-granted assumptions that are not challenged.
Asking questions in focus groups
Usually a small number of general questions is used.
Opening, clarifying or refocusing the group
Amount of intervention taken by the moderator depends on the topic of the
discussion;
how much knowledge the participants have;
the goals of the research.
With the purpose being generation of discussion among a group, the use of
an electronic recorder is all the more important.
Limitations of Focus Groups
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Document Summary

May bring out a wide variety of perspectives on an issue. Brings out why people feel the way they do. Brings out how individuals collectively make decisions and interpretations. Challenging by other interviewees may result in more realistic accounts of. How many groups? symbolic interactionism) what people believe. Depends on the topic and the goals of the research. Smaller group if the topics are controversial, complex, emotional. Natural groups: people who already know each other or already have had some interaction. May be appropriate, depending on the goals of the research. Useful if the research is actually about how social interaction occurs. Pre-existing styles of interaction or status hierarchies may affect the. The group may have taken-for-granted assumptions that are not challenged. Usually a small number of general questions is used. Amount of intervention taken by the moderator depends on the topic of the how much knowledge the participants have; the goals of the research.

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