Get 20M+ Full-Text Papers For Less Than $1.50/day. Subscribe now for You or Your Team.

Learn More →

A Market of Opinions: The Political Epistemology of Focus Groups

A Market of Opinions: The Political Epistemology of Focus Groups A market of opinions: the political epistemology of focus groups Javier Lezaun Introduction Provoking a conversation among a small group of people gathered in a room has become a widespread way of generating useful knowledge. The focus group is today a pervasive technology of social investigation, a versatile experimental setting where a multitude of ostensibly heterogeneous issues, from politics to economics, from voting to spending, can be productively addressed. Marketing is the field in which the focus group has acquired its most visible and standard- ized form, as an instrument to probe and foretell economic behaviour by anti- cipating the encounter of consumers and products in the marketplace. But whether they are used to anticipate consumer behaviour in a laboratory-like setting, or to produce descriptions of political attitudes, conversations elicited in the ‘white room’ of the focus group are relevant to a striking range of objects of social-scientific inquiry. The observation of contrived groupings of research subjects in ‘captive set- tings’ is of course a familiar source of knowledge in the social sciences, but there is something peculiar to the focus group as a research technology. In focus groups, knowledge is generated in the form of opinions. Moreover, a http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Sociological Review SAGE

A Market of Opinions: The Political Epistemology of Focus Groups

The Sociological Review , Volume 55 (2_suppl): 22 – Oct 1, 2007

Loading next page...
 
/lp/sage/a-market-of-opinions-the-political-epistemology-of-focus-groups-IYwng1aJNA

References (31)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2007 The Editorial Board of the Sociological Review
ISSN
0038-0261
eISSN
1467-954X
DOI
10.1111/j.1467-954X.2007.00733.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

A market of opinions: the political epistemology of focus groups Javier Lezaun Introduction Provoking a conversation among a small group of people gathered in a room has become a widespread way of generating useful knowledge. The focus group is today a pervasive technology of social investigation, a versatile experimental setting where a multitude of ostensibly heterogeneous issues, from politics to economics, from voting to spending, can be productively addressed. Marketing is the field in which the focus group has acquired its most visible and standard- ized form, as an instrument to probe and foretell economic behaviour by anti- cipating the encounter of consumers and products in the marketplace. But whether they are used to anticipate consumer behaviour in a laboratory-like setting, or to produce descriptions of political attitudes, conversations elicited in the ‘white room’ of the focus group are relevant to a striking range of objects of social-scientific inquiry. The observation of contrived groupings of research subjects in ‘captive set- tings’ is of course a familiar source of knowledge in the social sciences, but there is something peculiar to the focus group as a research technology. In focus groups, knowledge is generated in the form of opinions. Moreover, a

Journal

The Sociological ReviewSAGE

Published: Oct 1, 2007

There are no references for this article.