`Just talking about politics` can be seen as a relatively insignificant form of political participation but the context of this project recognises that when discussion turns ‘political’ citizens are taking risks – of entering into conflict, of revealing aspects of their beliefs and identity that open up differences from others, and of engaging emotion in a way that makes them vulnerable in social settings. This project aims to begin to understand whether and how perceived and experienced risk is a barrier to individuals’ participation; and to understand how different individuals have different attitudes to the risk of social and political conflict. The work will contribute to the development of and standard setting in focus group research, especially the use of extended focus groups for research on sensitive issues, and the detailed analysis of audio and video data using computer technology. The project will run from September 2005-September 2008 and the research will be carried out in Oxford, Paris and Brussels. The work builds on advanced techniques of focus group conduct and data analysis developed by Duchesne and colleagues at CEVIPOF, Paris. Funding for the project is held jointly by CEVIPOF, Paris, University of Louvain and the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford.
The project is located within the European Research Group: European Democracies, a meeting point for scholars in Oxford and at Sciences Po in France, who work on the comparative analysis of the evolution of European democratic systems. To this end, the ERG coordinates various research projects , seminars and workshops by members of the partner institutions involved in the Group. The partners involved in the ERG are: the Department of Politics and International Relations and the Department of Sociology of the University of Oxford, the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques (FNSP) and the Maison Française d`Oxford. You can find out more about the ERG and the ‘How Discussion becomes Political’ project by visiting the European Research Group website.