The use of focus groups in britain today as a form of democracy

Transcript This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. The capture of Eastern Ghouta followed a Russian-brokered deal that saw the last remaining rebel fighters granted safe passage to a rebel-held area in northern Syria. Human rights groups estimate some 1, civilians were killed in heavy fighting, after Syrian forces, backed by Russia, launched an offensive on Eastern Ghouta in February.

The use of focus groups in britain today as a form of democracy

Science and Democracy as Axiomatic? Heather Savigny Focus groups are an established and influential way of generating public opinion data. They have been extensively used by the British Labour Party and are more broadly associated with marketing.

Focus groups, as referred to within much of the political marketing literature and used in political practice, are underpinned by two central but largely implicit claims: This article renders explicit and disentangles these under- lying assumptions that inform the theory and practice of focus groups.

These theoretical concerns are illustrated by reference to the Labour Party, in particular its modernisation process during the build-up to the election. By separating and interrogating these basic premises two salient issues subsequently emerge.

Second, it is argued that over-reliance on focus groups challenges normative claims to democracy, by confining the potential for democratic debate to the few, rather than the many. Introduction Focus groups have been and are regarded by academics and practitioners alike as an important method of identifying public opinion.

Their significance has been acknowledged within academic literature in fields such as health Kitzinger ; Smith ; media studies Morrison ; and management McDonald ; Rook However, the remit of this article is the manner in which they have been incorporated into contemporary politics, in academic debate and in practice.

Focus groups have been viewed as an essential means through which political actors can establish their electoral campaign strategy Scammell They are widely used in America; Reagan used focus groups to pre-test campaign slogans Niffenegger and Clinton regularly tested policy ideas on focus groups Morris ; Newman In the UK the Labour Party has also made extensive use of this method to inform its electoral behaviour Gould ; Wring and Collecting public opinion data in this way is intimately linked with the wider trend of marketing politics.

The marketing of politics entails applying techniques and concepts associated with business practice to the political arena, both in the academic literature and political practice, and focus groups are one of the methods used in this process. For practitioners and within the literature, focus groups have also played a crucial symbolic role: There has, however, to date been a lack of systematic theoretical evaluation of this method, particularly with regard to political marketing.

It is argued here that the use of focus groups is underpinned by two central premises: These two implicit and guiding assumptions will be rendered explicit so that the underlying tensions and contradictions can be explored.

It is contended that while focus groups have utility and value as a method of collecting data in respect of public opinion, their current usage and application within much of the literature and in political practice serves to undermine their ideals.

The article begins by locating the use of focus groups in political practice as part of the broader process of the marketing of politics. It shows how the political market- ing literature justifies and incorporates the focus group method, as both normative and scientific. As such, the significance and dominance of scientific approaches in marketing and politics are then discussed.

The historical development of focus groups is then outlined and it is demonstrated how approaches to science and focus groups have become conflated, within the political marketing literature and prac- tice.

The normative and positive claims for the democratic process that are made, underpinned by this usage, are then highlighted and evaluated. The article con- cludes by considering the symbolic function that focus groups, perform within political marketing literature and practice, in relation to both science and democ- racy.

The use of focus groups in britain today as a form of democracy

Further focus groups have the poten- tial to undermine democracy, symbolically providing the perception that voters are listened to and engaged with, while in practice a minority of voters may have the potential to influence political actors, and this occurs outside of the electoral arena.Focus groups use questions and hypothetical dilemmas to stimulate many of our focus groups in Great Britain and the United States, citizens did consequences for citizenship and democracy.

Mar 20,  · Of course Britain is a democracy! We vote for our leaders like you do, although the electoral system is a little different. And we use the term 'Prime Minister' instead of 'president', with our current Prime Minister being a Status: Resolved. Focus groups are an established and influential way of generating public opinion data.

They have been extensively used by the British Labour Party and are more broadly associated with marketing. Focus groups, as referred to within much of the political marketing literature and used in political.

The use of focus groups in britain today as a form of democracy

In a democracy, participation in civic groups should be voluntary. No one should be forced to join an organization against their will. Political parties are vital organizations in a democracy, and democracy is stronger when citizens become active members of . Representative democracies of today, however, bound democracy to citizenship, In Britain and the US today too many are marginalised by apparently poor credit ratings, and by state policies.

“Britain Stronger in Europe” has conducted the focus groups, commissioned the polling and tested out its messages and on that informed basis is concentrating on the risks of Brexit and the.

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