FOCUS GROUPS

A Feminist Method

Authors


  • The author thanks Hannah Frith for the data extract quoted and for enthusiastic discussion of focus group method.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sue Wilkinson, Women's Studies Research Group, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK. E-mail: S.Wilkinson@lboro.ae.uk.

Abstract

Focus groups are little used in feminist psychology, despite their methodological advantages. Following a brief introduction to the method, the article details three key ways in which the use of focus groups addresses the feminist critique of traditional methods in psychology. Focus groups are relatively naturalistic and so avoid the charge of artificiality; they offer social contexts for meaning-making and so avoid the charge of decontextualization; and they shift the balance of power away from the researcher toward the research participants and so avoid the charge of exploitation. The final section of the article, which evaluates the potential of focus groups for feminist research, identifies some other benefits of the method and also discusses some problems in the current use of focus groups. It concludes that the use—and development—of focus group methods offer feminist psychology an excellent opportunity for the future.

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