The Use of Focus Groups in the Process of Political Research and Consultancy

Ursula Breitenfelder, Christoph Hofinger, Isabella Kaupa, Ruth Picker


The Institute for Social Research and Analysis (SORA) offers strategic consulting based on empirical research for political parties and interested organizations. Qualitative methods—above all focus groups—are of utmost importance in this context. Using five examples this article discusses how focus groups can enrich political research and consulting. Each of the case studies is derived from actual consulting experience and serves to discuss issues that characterized a specific research project. The case studies illustrate the manifold ways of utilizing focus groups in the political research and consulting process: Focus groups can be employed at the very beginning of a strategic process, to yield the basis for decisions during the course of an electoral campaign or to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of the campaign after the election day. Because the use of focus groups in the political research and consultancy process may vary greatly, we do not employ a single methodological approach of conducting and analyzing focus groups. Methodological considerations (e.g. the number of participants, sampling criteria, degree of structure in the facilitation of the group, deductive and inductive strategies for data analysis, online focus groups and "real" groups etc.) need to be made for specific issues. Furthermore we provide an overview of feedback and communication functions focus groups can have both for clients and consultants.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0402254


focus groups; politics; political and strategic consultancy; political research; campaigning; election (electoral) campaign

Copyright (c) 2004 Ursula Breitenfelder, Christoph Hofinger, Isabella Kaupa, Ruth Picker

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.