How Focus Groups Can Be Used As An Appropriate Essay

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Canterbury Christ Church University Academic Year 2006/07 Master of Research Course G3: Qualitative Methods Assessor: Dr Alison Smith Candidate: Massimo Mozzati INTRODUCTION The aim of this paper is to illustrate how of focus groups can be used as an appropriate research method in the investigation of mystical experiences. The work of Krueger (1994) is very sound and has influenced the thinking behind this paper. The paper also discusses how Phenomenology can be applied in such research and how this kind of theoretical perspective will influence data collection and analysis. The first section, entitled “Typologies of studies on mysticism”, presents an overview of the research topic with a description of the main concepts that underline studies of mysticism. The second section, entitled “Theory of research and mysticism”, explains why a qualitative research strategy is the best approach to investigate subjective perceptions of mystical experiences. Phenomenology is also discussed and considered as an appropriate theoretical perspective. The third section, entitled “Why focus groups?”, discusses strengths and weaknesses of working with focus groups within the specific research topic presented in this paper. The fourth section, entitled “Applied focus groups interviews, data collection and analysis”, considers practical aspects of planning and running focus groups. Plans for how the groups will be conducted are also detailed on the basis of a schedule/topic guide provided in Appendix. TYPOLOGIES OF STUDIES ON MYSTICISM Four main typologies can be identified in the study of mysticism: a qualitative and Interpretivistic traditional approach, based on the analysis of historical mystic literature; a more recent approach, also qualitative in its strategy, psychologically oriented and demystifying, based on the

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