Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a slave (New York: Penguin Books, 2012). (461)

Bloor, Michael, Jane Frankland, Michelle Thomas, and Kate Robinson. “Composition of Groups.” In

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Bloor, Michael, Jane Frankland, Michelle Thomas, and Kate Robinson. “Composition of Groups.” In Focus Groups in Social Research (London: Sage Publications) 19-36. (18)
Bloor and company’s piece out of Focus Groups in Social Research highlights the necessary dynamics and common obstacles researchers so often come into contact with. Working with issues of conflict in beliefs, variety of individuals, common sense variables and problem groups, Bloor describes that the individuals of the group and the dynamics thereof ultimately dictate the success of the focus group, and perhaps even the research. The use of pre-existing groups is one aspect of formation which is confronted, even, in some ways, demolishing the myth “that focus groups must consist of strangers”, as often groups consisting of strangers prove economically sound but socially unstable, as there is no way to pre-screen for issues as discussed above.143 With the use of these pre-existing groups, or “friendship groups” as Bloor cites Kitzinger, “the researcher may be able to tap into interaction which approximates ‘naturally occurring’ data” similar to the collection of data through observation.144 One other aspect of focus group myth that Bloor confronts is that of size. In the history of focus group research six to eight participants are suggested, creating “the optimum size for focus group discussion”, but as more and more research has proved this number is determinant upon the research being conducted.145 Often smaller groups are ideal for research regarding “sensitive behavior” or those dealing with the need for “experts or people in authority who may respond negatively is they feel that they have not had enough time o express their views”.146 Bloor and company describe, quite clearly the necessary dynamics for a successful focus group by explaining all foreseeable options and covering them with care. Examples such as this are where Bloor’s directions to ideal focus groups come into play – by taking into account issues of size one can also confront issues of dynamics within the group in order to prevent the creation of difficult groups.

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