Focus Group Method: Doing Research Inclusively and Supporting Social Inclusion

Melanie Nind (Lead / Corresponding author), Alex Kaley, Edward Hall

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    This chapter relates to the inclusive or democratic turn in social science research. Increasingly, researchers are seeking to shift the dynamics of research production away from doing research on people, mining them for information, and towards researching with participants and recognizing that research needs to be purposeful and beneficial for participants. One important way of doing this is by creating vibrant interactive spaces in which best use can be made of participants’ potential not just to contribute, but to learn from each other’s contributions and come to know themselves and their own situation a little better. Focus groups can create these spaces, especially when the researcher is alert to their inclusive and transformative potential and open to the idea of hybrids of focus groups and other methods. Taking a Freirean approach to the focus group method, the authors have been using focus groups to support participants’ power in the research process. This comes through embracing the praxis of defining their focus collaboratively and by embedding the research authority in the interactive space between individuals. The chapter shows how focus groups can be political or playful as a means of co-production. This will be illustrated using data from studies involving people with intellectual disabilities, where the mutual support among those in dialogue is evident. The authors argue that the experience of taking part in focus groups enhances the social inclusion of those involved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHandbook of Social Inclusion
    Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Practices in Health and Social Sciences
    Place of PublicationSwitzerland
    Number of pages21
    ISBN (Electronic)9783030482770
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Dec 2020


    • Focus groups
    • inclusion
    • Participatory methods
    • Co-production
    • Collaboration
    • Democratization


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