Focus group

In its desire to broaden the mapping of the memories of ’89 in Italy and their plurality, the Gramsci Foundation deemed it opportune to place side by side the most proper instruments of historical research, such as the collection of oral testimonies, with instruments borrowed from sociological and anthropological disciplines, such as Focus Groups. For the purposes of the project, the focus group was used in its qualitative variant – which aims to deepen particular aspects of a topic – and had as its main purpose to compare the memories of citizens belonging to different generations with respect to the events of ’89 and the influence they have had in determining the European structure as we know it today, both politically and socially and culturally. The intergenerational element has been deliberately placed at the center of the comparison because it was considered necessary to stimulate interaction between those who have experienced, albeit indirectly, the events under discussion and those who – not yet born, or too young to have memory – have grown up in the shadow of processes and institutions – from the fall of communism to the birth of the EU, from the transformation of democracy in Western Europe to the enlargement to the East of the Union – which arose from the deflagration of the bipolar order.
On this basis, it was decided to carry out two focus groups, each one composed of 8-10 people, heterogeneous in terms of age (age groups: 20-25; 35-45; 45-65), gender and background. The two groups involved citizens belonging to the world of education, civic activism and cultural work and / or international and were formed with the collaboration of various associations in the territory of Bologna such as Arci Bologna, Arci la fattoria, Rif-festival, Associazione Crocevia, Don’t panic, Circolo Arci ritmo lento, Associazione Oltre… and Archivio storico della camera del lavoro.
Both focus groups were led by a scientific responsible of the project, who, as moderator, stimulated the discussion through the use of fragments (photos, recordings, documents) referring to a thematic map previously sketched and containing the conceptual nodes that were considered to be of particular importance for a choral reflection on the topic (Walls of yesterday and walls of today, Europe, European Union, solidarity, inequalities, borders, identity, citizenship and so on). Two other people, on the other hand, played the role of observers and recorded the points of view, ideas, objections and interactions of and between the participants, so as to make the output of the focus groups available for the research carried out by the project.