All entries for Tuesday 05 July 2005

July 05, 2005

Focus group Friday

Okay time to panic. Am running my focus group on Friday. That's in 3 days time. Eeeek. Eeeeeeeek. Eeeeeeeeeeek. Am going back to my room to panic and bury head in a pot of basil.

Anyway, this is my discussion guide, my attempt to write something meaningful and coherent to justify this entry's 'academic related' classification…

Comments and suggestions very welcome! I have already run this by my dissertation supervisor, my parents and my colleagues at Leeds uni, and all the feedback has been helpful in some way or another, not least because I am fairly inexperienced and unsure of myself when it comes to conducting empirical social research.

Discussion guide

This focus group will be conducted in two 45-minute sessions with a 10–15 minute break in between. There should be 8 participants – men aged 45–60 who are mostly long-term unemployed, who recently participated in a week-long training scheme at Leeds University. Through the scheme the participants know each other and me (because of my role as administrative assistant within the department and presence at the training sessions). The focus group will take place in a seminar room at the university and I will record the discussion as well as take notes. I haven't worked out the exact timing yet, but I will allocate a certain amount of time to each section of the discussion to ensure that we cover all areas in sufficient detail.


Barriers to employment

  • Have you noticed any particular changes in the job market since you first entered it?

  • What kinds of changes? (possible prompts: feminisation of job market, new skills, new technologies, shift from manufacturing to service industries etc.)

  • How do you feel about these changes? Have they made it more or less difficult for you to find employment?

  • Tell me about particular problems or barriers that you’ve had in seeking employment.

Experiences of ageism

  • What skills and knowledge do you think older people can offer employers that younger people might lack?

  • How do you think employers perceive older workers?

  • Do you think that employers discriminate against older workers?

  • If so, why? If not, why not?

  • What do you understand by the term ‘ageism’?

  • What changes do you think could be made to improve the employment situation of older workers by employers? and by the government?

Men and unemployment

  • What does the word ‘work’ mean to you?

  • Is work important to you? Why? Do you think that your reasons have anything to do with being a man?

  • Do you think that men and women see work / employment differently?

  • Do you think that society/employers view unemployed men differently from unemployed women? If so, how?

  • What do you think is the main role of a man?

  • How do you think unemployment affects the role of men?

  • Do you see your role as the main breadwinner? Do you think this should be a man’s main role?

  • If you have a wife or partner, has (s)he had to go out to work or increase his/her working hours as a result of your unemployment?

  • Has this changed the division of labour in your home, for instance, do you do more housework or child-care?

  • How do you feel about these changes e.g. about your wife / partner having to work?

Coping with unemployment

  • Has unemployment affected your relationships with other people (partners, family, friends etc.) and your social life? If so, how?

  • What part of being unemployed has been hardest for you?

  • Why has it been so difficult?

  • How do you cope with these particular problems?

  • What kind of support do you have to help you deal with these problems?

Alternatives to employment

  • How important do you think it is to have a job?

  • What are the alternatives to re-entering the job market?

  • How do you feel about these alternatives?

  • Do you think there are any benefits to unemployment? If so, what? (possible prompts: more time for self, family, friends, more time to learn new skills or travel?)

At the aquarium

Make me caffeinated

If I drink enough coffee, maybe my dissertation will start to happen of its own accord. I ache, my throat and head hurt, and I just want to spend the day curled up in bed until this goddamn summer stops being so quintessentially British (i.e. shit).

Made it as far as the Learning Grid though, so progress of a sort.

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