Benefits of Focus Group Research Essay

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Benefits of Focus Group Research Introduction:

Focus group research offers the unique opportunity for researchers to perceive an individual, and their opinions, not only in an exclusive situation, but also as part of a group. Within a group there is a wealth of tacit and experiential knowledge from the outset as in the course of most people's lives they will have interacted with other people in group situations. Bryman (2001) refers to the focused interview as the precept for focus group research,

'The original idea for the focus group- the focused interview- was that people who were known to have a certain experience could be interviewed in a relatively unstructured way
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Finally, I will endeavour to consider the use of focus groups as a feminist research tool and as a means to research minority groups.

What is focus group research?

Traditional literature on focus groups suggests that there is a rigid set of rules that should be followed in their use. Greenbaum (1998) and Krueger (1994) uphold the view that focus groups cannot function efficiently if these 'rules' are broken. They believe that the researcher should avoid complex issues and sensitive data. In their view, it is also important that participants shouldn't know each other and that natural settings are rarely used. However, I shall also be examining the research of Cohen and Garett (1999), which demonstrates the effectiveness of focus groups even when these 'regulations' are not rigidly upheld. Krueger (1994) notes that the origins of focus groups (as used by social scientists) emerged in the late 1930s as a result of increasing disillusionment in traditional methods of gathering information, such as interviewing, due to the restrictive nature of the influence of the interviewer and the limitations of pre-determined and close-ended questions. Their aim was to
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