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2016-2017: Corso on line sui Focus group  

Scuola di Dottorato in Filosofia e Scienze Umane

A.A. 2016-2017


Focus group

 (Area: social sciences and anthropology)


Coordinator: prof. Marcello Massimini (University of Milan)

Instructor: prof. Giampietro Gobo (University of Milan)


To contact the instructor:

Phone: 02-503-12344

E-mail: Giampietro.Gobo@unimi.it

Office hours: see http://ggoboRS.ariel.ctu.unimi.it

Office location: Cortile Ghiacciaia (2nd floor)


Type of course: online

The course is based on 4 video-taped lectures and some reading materials, the following Ariel page: http://ggobors.ariel.ctu.unimi.it/v3/home/PreviewArea.aspx and click on “Accedi ai corsi”, on the top left of the screen.

To get the access to the online course, you need to authenticate yourself.

If you do not have the authentication, please send a request to dr. Antonella Cosetti cosetti@ctu.unimi.it


Course objectives

The course aims to:

  • to overview the main features of focus groups
  • to outline the main research steps
  • to show video materials about real focus groups
  • to critically discuss advantages and disadvantages of this method


Course prerequisites (if any): none



Lecture 1



1. The focus group:

  • Brief historical overview
  • Defining focus group
  • Other techniques based on groups
  • Sociological grounds for the use of focus group
  • Uses of focus group and applied research

Lecture 2



2. Natural, temporary and artificial groups

3. The research design

4. Sampling

Lecture 3



5. Entering the field

  • contacts
  • the negotiation of researcher’s identity
  • Motivation, social contract and benefits
  • The setting
  • Overcoming diffidence
  • The Italian law on privacy

Lecture 4



6. Managing the debate

  • Crafting the environment
  • The role of moderator
  • The observer
  • The role of questions
  • The interactions among participants
  • Types of participants

7. Video of real focus groups

Lecture 5



8. Organization and analysis of materials

  • Transcribing the debate
  • Videotaping the encounter
  • The context of interactions
  • The semiotic analysis

Lecture 6



9. Advantages and disadvantages of focus group

  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • The future of focus group


Course requirements and assessment

Who likes to follow this online course, then (in order to certify the attendance) s/he will take an oral examination with the instructor, discussing the contents of the course and the reading materials. Please contact the instructor directly, in order to select the preferred reading materials.


Bibliographical references

Required readings:

Michael Bloor, Jane Frankland, Michelle Thomas, Kate Robson (2001), Focus Groups in Social Research, London: Sage.

Suggested readings:

  • Claudia Puchta, Jonathan Potter (2004), Focus Group Practice, London: Sage.
  • Articles in the web-site.
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