Review: Ralf Bohnsack, Aglaja Przyborski & Burkhard Schäffer (Eds.) (2010). Das Gruppendiskussionsverfahren in der Forschungspraxis [The Group Discussion Technique in Research Practice]
This edited volume comprises a range of studies that have employed a group discussion technique in combination with a specific strategy for reconstructive social research—the so-called documentary method. The latter is an empirical research strategy based on the meta-theoretical premises of the praxeological sociology of knowledge, as developed by Ralf BOHNSACK. It seeks to access practice in a more appropriate manner, namely by differentiating between various dimensions of knowledge and sociality. It holds that habitual collective orientations, in particular, are best accessed through group discussions. Thus this book does not address the group discussion technique in general, as might be expected from the title. Instead, it presents various contributions from researchers interpreting transcripts of group discussions according to the documentary method. The chapters are grouped into three main sections, representing different frameworks of practice and habitual orientation: childhood, adolescence, and organizational or societal context. A fourth section includes chapters on further, potentially useful ways of employing this particular technique and approach, as well as a chapter on teaching it in a meaningful way. Each chapter is structured in the same way: introduction to the research field and focus; methodological discussion; exemplary interpretation of group discussions; and concluding remarks. Whilst the transcripts referred to by the authors are very helpfully presented in the chapters, there is a lack of methodological reflection on the group discussion technique itself, which, as mentioned above, is only evaluated in regard to the documentary method.
group discussion; documentary method; theory of action; reconstructivist social research