14 SES 06 A, Multidisciplinary Approaches to Learning in and from Urban Spaces: Place-Based Methodologies - Part 3
Focus group discussions (FGDs) can be defined as group interviews, facilitated by a mediator, and focused around one or several discussion topics. What truly distinguishes focus groups from other group data collection methods is the discussion aspect, namely what is generated by the interaction between individuals and the expression/confrontation of their ideas. “[…] There is always the potential for the focus group process itself to initiate changes in participants' thinking and understanding, merely through exposure to the interactive process” (Barbour 1999). At the community level, especially in the urban context, there are not many opportunities for discussion among peers about the experience of "living in the city", and that was what we expected to provide. While they were firstly developed for use in the field of marketing (namely, product development, market positioning, consumer habits, etc), FGDs have become increasingly popular in the field of social sciences. As Kitzinger and Barbour (1999) point out, «focus groups are ideal for exploring people’s experiences, opinions, wishes and concerns. (...) [They] also enable researchers to examine people’s different perspectives as they operate within a social network» (Kitzinger & Barbour, 1999: 5). This means that, aside from being useful in the assessment of standpoints (both individual and collective), they are also relevant for gauging the participants’ “social skills”, as well as the power dynamics that already exist or which are established during the activity. FGDs are, therefore, contexts of social production and reproduction, which is why they offer researchers some clues about relationships and networks. In this presentation, we will draw on data pertaining to a four year-long project, based on the principles of the Educating Cities’ movement, and discuss the participation of children/young people, local government, schools, citizens associations and SMEs in place-based social and educational development initiatives.
- BAKER, R. & HILTON, R. (1999) Do Focus Groups Facilitate Meaningful Participation in Social Research?, in R. S. Barbour & J. Kitzinger (Eds) Developing Focus Group Research. Politics, theory and practice. USA: Sage Publications, 79-98. - BARBOUR, R. S. (1999) Are Focus Groups an Appropriate Tool for Studying Organizational Change?, in R. S. Barbour & J. Kitzinger (Eds) Developing Focus Group Research. Politics, theory and practice. USA: Sage Publications, 113-126. - GEHL, J. (2010) Cities for People. Washington/Covelo/London: Island Press. - GUITART, A. O. (2006) Uso de los Espacios Públicos y Construcción del Sentido de Pertenencia de sus Habitantes en Barcelona, in A. Lindón, M. Á. Aguilar & D. Hiernaux (Coords) Lugares e Imaginarios en la Metrópolis. Barcelona: Anthropos Editorial/División de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades – Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 67-83. - KITZINGER, J. & BARBOUR, R. S. (1999) Introduction: The challenge and promise of focus groups, in R. S. Barbour & J. Kitzinger (Eds) Developing Focus Group Research. Politics, theory and practice. USA: Sage Publications, 1-20. - WATERTON, C. & WYNNE, B. (1999) Can Focus Groups Access Community Views?, in R. S. Barbour & J. Kitzinger (Eds) Developing Focus Group Research. Politics, theory and practice. USA: Sage Publications, 127-143.
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