Designing Generative Dialogue Spaces

Dimitra Dimitrakopoulou /  Bigger Picture


Focus groups are a core methodology in audience research for bringing people together to discuss an issue of concern; however, it has been criticized for not enabling researchers to gain a deep understanding of the participants' lived experiences or generating in-depth personal narratives that build on those experiences. In this project, we build on the shared epistemologies of qualitative research and journalism to introduce the Generative Dialogue Framework. The Generative Dialogue Framework is grounded in the intersection of inquiry, knowledge, and storytelling to design and facilitate remote, and in-person dialogue groups. 

Informed by phenomenology, the philosophy of dialogue, and design thinking, and with a strong visual focus, the framework aims at surfacing participants’ lived experiences as a way of understanding their perceptions, thoughts, and perspectives, especially within the context of controversial or polarizing topics of concern. Specifically, it aims at surfacing participants' lived experiences as a way of understanding their perceptions, thoughts, and perspectives. It stimulates constructive dialogue by offering a focused framework and a structured yet flexible question guide. The result is a reflective learning dialogue in which participants jointly develop shared meanings and insights, rather than simply exchanging rationalized opinions. 

Drawing on insights from a case study that explores people’s perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccination, the article demonstrates the framework’s application and provides a toolkit to structure the design and implementation process. Finally, reflecting on methodological and epistemological perspectives, the author reviews the advantages and challenges of applying the framework in focus group research for both researchers and the participants.

Dimitra Dimitrakopoulou (forthcoming).  Designing Generative Dialogue Spaces to Enhance Focus Group Research: A Case Study in the Context of COVID-19 Vaccination.  International Journal of Qualitative Methods.