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Can Focus Groups Access Community Views?

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Can Focus Groups Access Community Views?

This chapter considers whether focus groups can contribute to an understanding of community attitudes to risks. We look at this question on two different levels. The first level appraises the use of focus groups, in contrast to opinion polls, as a methodology for ascertaining community attitudes. The second level considers the challenges of interpretation of focus group data. Using an example of an attitude poll held near Sellafield, West Cumbria, in contrast to our own research using focus groups in the same area, we demonstrate that focus groups can certainly uncover a far richer sense of community views on nuclear risks than that ascertained through the poll. We argue that opinion polls have constructed a misleadingly simple and impoverished ...

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