Enabling talk: How the facilitator shapes a focus group.

Myers, Greg (2007) Enabling talk: How the facilitator shapes a focus group. Text and Talk, 27 (1). pp. 79-105. ISSN 1860-7349

Full text not available from this repository.


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:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Text and Talk
Additional Information:
RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
05 Mar 2008 11:27
Last Modified:
22 Sep 2023 00:08