Conducting Focus Groups in Terms of an Appreciation of Indigenous Ways of Knowing: Some Examples from South Africa


  • Norma Ruth Arlene Romm University of South Africa



indigenous ways of knowing, collective exploration as relational, facilitator orientation, focus group research, focus group participant feedback


In this article I consider some examples of conducting focus groups in South Africa with school teachers in a manner which takes into account indigenous ways of knowing. Indigenous knowing (within various indigenous cultural heritages) can be defined as linked to processes of people collectively constructing their understandings by experiencing their social being in relation to others. I indicate how the conduct of focus groups can be geared towards taking into account as well as strengthening knowing as a relational activity defined in this way. Once facilitators of focus groups appreciate this epistemology they can set up a climate in which people feel part of a research process of relational discussion around issues raised. This requires an effort on the part of facilitators to make explicit to participants the type of orientation to research that is being encouraged via the focus group session. I offer examples of attempts to practice such an approach to facilitation, including examples of feedback obtained from participants regarding their experience of the research process.



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Author Biography

Norma Ruth Arlene Romm, University of South Africa

Norma R.A. ROMM (Doctor of literature, philosophy, and sociology) is professor in the Department of Adult Basic Education and Youth Development, University of South Africa. She is author of the following books: "The Methodologies of Positivism and Marxism" (1991), "Accountability in Social Research" (2001), "New Racism" (2010), "People's Education in Theoretical Perspective" (with V. McKAY, 1992), "Diversity Management" (with R. FLOOD, 1996), and "Assessment of the Impact of HIV and AIDS in the Informal Economy of Zambia" (with V. McKAY, 2008). She has co-edited two books (on "Social Theory" and on "Critical Systems Thinking") and published over 90 research articles.




How to Cite

Romm, N. R. A. (2014). Conducting Focus Groups in Terms of an Appreciation of Indigenous Ways of Knowing: Some Examples from South Africa. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 16(1).



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