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Using Vignettes in Focus Groups With Young Women in Mozambique

By: Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Sociology
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This case study explores the use of vignettes in focus groups with young women in Mozambique. The aim of the research was to better understand the life event of unintended pregnancy through listening to young women in Mozambique and to identify the ways in which they respond to the challenges associated with unintended pregnancy. Data collection required 6 months of qualitative fieldwork in Mozambique, which presented a number of methodological and practical considerations, namely, communication, access, and appropriate cultural engagement. Eight focus groups, with up to 12 young women (aged 16-21 years), were used to facilitate individual and group responses to a vignette of Hortencia, a young woman who had unintentionally become pregnant. This vignette was used to explore perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes, accessing a “social” (as opposed to individual) level of data, and appeared to be an enjoyable activity for most participants. Data generation and reconstruction was not always a smooth process, especially when combined with the challenge of getting everyone together in the same place at the same time and ensuring a high level of skill was used by the research assistants to get the “best” out of the groups and negotiate group dynamics. The experience, however, caused the lead researcher to further reflect on her “outsider” status and relationship with her research assistants. The data produced were not straightforward to analyze, it often highlighted contradictions between social level assumptions and “real life accounts,” but was pivotal in better understanding the wider discourses associated with unintended pregnancy.

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