Farmlands, or agricultural landscapes, captures the interest of a number of researchers based at the Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University. On this blog we share information about research findings, activities, events and comments related to our work.

Our interest in farmlands has three roots: farming, landscape and society.
Farming as a practice, including farmers knowledge and labour investments
Landscape as society-nature relations, congealed history, and as space and place
Society as a short form for institutions, gender relations, political economy and scientific relevance

Most Welcome to FarmLandS!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Two new methodological publications

Re-Thinking the Boundaries of the Focus Group: A Reflexive Analysis on the Use and Legitimacy of Group Methodologies in Qualitative Research

by Martina Angela Caretta and Elena Vacchelli
Stockholm University; Middlesex University
Sociological Research Online, 20 (4), 13

  1. This article aims at problematizing the boundaries of what counts as focus group and in so doing it identifies some continuity between focus group and workshop, especially when it comes to arts informed and activity laden focus groups. The workshop[1] is often marginalized as a legitimate method for qualitative data collection outside PAR (Participatory Action Research)-based methodologies. Using examples from our research projects in East Africa and in London we argue that there are areas of overlap between these two methods, yet we tend to use concepts and definitions associated with focus groups because of the lack of visibility of workshops in qualitative research methods academic literature.

The article argues that focus groups and workshops present a series of intertwined features resulting in a blending of the two which needs further exploration. In problematizing the boundaries of focus groups and recognizing the increasing usage of art-based and activity-based processes for the production of qualitative data during focus groups, we argue that focus groups and workshop are increasingly converging. We use a specifically feminist epistemology in order to critically unveil the myth around the non-hierarchical nature of consensus and group interaction during focus group discussions and other multi-vocal qualitative methods and contend that more methodological research should be carried out on the workshop as a legitimate qualitative data collection technique situated outside the cycle of action research.

Keywords: Focus Group Discussion, Workshop, Participation, Feminist Critical Research

Member checking: A feminist participatory analysis of the use of preliminary results pamphlets in cross-cultural, cross-language research

Participation and reflexivity have become buzzwords that are seldom discussed in terms of their practical employment. Against this backdrop, with a specific focus on geography, this article presents and analyzes the advantages and limitations of a methodological tool that seeks to enhance both reflexivity and participation. The tool was a pamphlet written in local languages that contained several pictures and summarized the data gathered in previous fieldwork sessions. This tool was used in a four-year research project on the gender division of labor in smallholder irrigation farming in Kenya and Tanzania. The pamphlet showed participants their contributions to the research process and offered them the opportunity to correct, improve and further discuss previously collected data. It not only ensured research validity but also allowed for a shift in the research power hierarchy. Finally, the pamphlet effectively created a space for inclusion, discussion and reciprocal learning, leading to collective reflexivity and catalytic validity by empowering participants and re-orienting the researcher.

Keywords: cross-cultural research, cross-language research, East Africa, feminist epistemology, member checking, pamphlets, smallholder farming

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