Interrogating paradigmatic commitments of focus group methodology: An invitation to context-sensitive qualitative research methods

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Abstract

Paradigmatic methodological guidelines predominantly reflect communicative norms of societies where the methods were developed and formalized. Using the example of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), we highlight the dangers of indiscriminately following paradigmatic guidelines when using qualitative methods in varied sociocultural settings. We argue that their universal implementation can lead to ethnocentric biases in qualitative research practices. In this article, we discuss four specific issues related to: (a) the significance of existing relationships between participants and the presence of onlookers during research, (b) a priori determination of the level of privacy required by participants, (c) considering atomistic individuals as creators of qualitative data, and (d) overlooking the social practice aspect of research. The article also presents our theorization of a tripartite conceptualization of research context that can facilitate a considered use of paradigmatic norms and guidelines. The article concludes with our reflections on how qualitative research can achieve greater symmetry between its methods and the varied sociocultural contexts where they are used.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

©American Psychological Association, 2022. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, at: https://doi.org/10.1037/qup0000227

Keywords

  • Culture
  • Bias
  • ethnocentrism
  • Decolonising
  • Focus groups
  • qualitative method
  • Qualitative Research
  • Qualitative research - Methodology

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