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Focus groups, community engagement, and researching with young people

Lloyd-Evans, S. (2017) Focus groups, community engagement, and researching with young people. In: Skelton, T., Evans, R. and Holt, L. (eds.) Methodological Approaches. Geographies of Children and Young People, 2. Springer, Singapore. ISBN 9789812870193

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Over the last decade, participatory action research (PAR) has been increasingly used in geography in an attempt to move away from identifying and theorizing problems towards engaging with social action, impact and empowering local communities. Participatory research is seen by many geographers to produce more relevant, non- hierarchical and morally aware forms of social geography and it can act as a ‘lever’ and subsequent indicator in the cohesion and engagement of young people in community development. Drawing on these debates, this chapter critically explores the use of focus groups and other group-based methodologies with young people through the lens of a participatory action research project undertaken in a ‘disadvantaged’ neighbourhood in the town of Reading, UK. It explores the ways in which participatory focus groups, and associated group based methods such as ‘go-alongs’, can offer tools for understanding young people’s group behaviours, interactions and norms, particularly as part of a multi-method approach to community-based field research. Using the project as a lens for understanding youth engagement, the chapter also seeks to address the intricacies, complexities and messiness of researching with young people in order to understand how methodologies learned in the classroom can be transitioned to the field. Following a discussion of PAR and community engagement, the chapter critically explores the strengths and weaknesses of using focus groups with young people before examining other more mobile ways of doing group research. It then provides a discussion of the logistics of planning, recruiting and facilitating focus groups and concludes by offering some simple yet effective ways of engaging young people in social action.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:85877


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