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Enabling talk: How the facilitator shapes a focus group.

Myers, Greg (2007) Enabling talk: How the facilitator shapes a focus group. Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language Discourse & Communication Studies, 27 (1). pp. 79-105.

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Abstract

Contemporary democratic politics involves, not just constitutions, elections, and representative bodies, but complex processes of more direct consultation with the public. The value of these processes depends on their openness to voices, topics, and styles of expression that might be excluded from other forums. In this paper I analyze focus group discussions, one of the genres used for public consultation, and the ways that discussions are framed by facilitators. The facilitators' turns are seldom in the form of free-standing questions or statements requiring a response from the participants. Instead, the kinds of interventions they make—probes, prompts, formulations, and metacomments—can be understood in terms of what Sacks (1992) called second-speaker tying rules; that is, they construct coherence by presenting the facilitators' turns as following from what has already been said by a participant. These turns signal that participants are entitled to speak and the facilitator is listening; they also signal the kind of additional response that is wanted. These additional responses call for wider range, greater specificity and personal context, or further reflection on the wording or form of the statement. I argue that a forum does not extend consultation with the public just by removing institutional constraints to allow opinions to be spoken; it should also enable talk that would not otherwise have had an occasion to happen.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language Discourse & Communication Studies
Additional Information: RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Linguistics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Linguistics & English Language
ID Code: 3973
Deposited By: ep_importer
Deposited On: 05 Mar 2008 11:27
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 17:59
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/3973

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