Analyzing Focus Groups About Poverty in the Early Years Using a Narrative Approach


This case draws on the author's doctoral studies about practitioners' narratives of poverty in the early years. The case discusses how focus groups provide a useful way of exploring early years practitioners' (EY practitioners) understandings of child poverty. The research was based in two Sure Start Children Centres with onsite Nursery Schools and Daycare provision in the South of England. Overall 40 EY practitioners took part in six focus groups. A "secret box" and newspaper article were used to help stimulate discussion and address issues of power within the groups. A narrative approach was chosen to analyze the focus groups based on Riessman's dialogic/performance analytical approach. Lessons learnt included: using innovative strategies to help facilitate focus groups, allowing sufficient time to analyze data, and the developmental nature of the analysis process. It is concluded that focus groups provide a rich source of narrative data particularly for examining how participants co-construct understandings and meanings relating to child poverty.

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