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The micro-dynamics of power and performance in focus groups: an example from discussions on national identity with the South Sudanese diaspora in the UK

The micro-dynamics of power and performance in focus groups: an example from discussions on national identity with the South Sudanese diaspora in the UK
The micro-dynamics of power and performance in focus groups: an example from discussions on national identity with the South Sudanese diaspora in the UK

In recent years there has been an increasing recognition that both the content of focus group discussions and the interaction that takes place form indivisible facets of focus group data. Interaction, however, is not a neutral activity but one that is infused with the dynamics of power in wider society and in the immediate context of the discussion. I use Bourdieu’s notion of fields of power to analyse focus group discussions on national identity with South Sudanese diaspora in the UK. I argue that the micro-dynamics of power in focus group discussions have relevance to the relations of power in the population group from which participants are purposively sampled and, consequently, their observation enriches research findings. Further, I observe that the guidance literature on the conduct of focus group discussions encourages power-reduction strategies, and requires updating to allow space for the power-infused character of social interaction to manifest itself.

analysis, focus groups, interaction, moderation, Pierre Bourdieu, power, sampling, South Sudan
1468-7941
1-17
Ayrton, Rachel
3d3e7f99-19f3-4c45-9abd-38ed52f67ae9
Ayrton, Rachel
3d3e7f99-19f3-4c45-9abd-38ed52f67ae9

Ayrton, Rachel (2018) The micro-dynamics of power and performance in focus groups: an example from discussions on national identity with the South Sudanese diaspora in the UK. Qualitative Research, 1-17. (doi:10.1177/1468794118757102).

Record type: Article

Abstract

In recent years there has been an increasing recognition that both the content of focus group discussions and the interaction that takes place form indivisible facets of focus group data. Interaction, however, is not a neutral activity but one that is infused with the dynamics of power in wider society and in the immediate context of the discussion. I use Bourdieu’s notion of fields of power to analyse focus group discussions on national identity with South Sudanese diaspora in the UK. I argue that the micro-dynamics of power in focus group discussions have relevance to the relations of power in the population group from which participants are purposively sampled and, consequently, their observation enriches research findings. Further, I observe that the guidance literature on the conduct of focus group discussions encourages power-reduction strategies, and requires updating to allow space for the power-infused character of social interaction to manifest itself.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 1 February 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 14 February 2018
Keywords: analysis, focus groups, interaction, moderation, Pierre Bourdieu, power, sampling, South Sudan

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 418626
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/418626
ISSN: 1468-7941
PURE UUID: 0b98b3c3-af59-4c1f-9a15-09a7d4aa5565

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Date deposited: 13 Mar 2018 17:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 18:48

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