I was looking at The New Republic’s new Open University group blog, and noticed Cass Sunstein’s post on “ideological amplification”: the process by which, some studies have argued, group interaction appears to cause politically-similar groups to move toward more extreme political positions than arise in politically-mixed groups. Sunstein cites a recent study on the issue, for those who would like to follow up.
Time constraints prevent me from writing my own views of the concept now, but I thought I’d still plug Sunstein’s blog entry for any lurking methods students who are considering how to design focus groups – depending on what research question you’re trying to explore, you might find it useful to play off of some of the ideas in the study when thinking about the composition of your groups. I also suspect the concept of ideological amplification might be interesting for some of the planning students contemplating pieces on communicative planning theory, as it might cast an interesting light on the interpretation of community consultations as a social learning process…
[Hat tip to Scott Eric Kaufman at Acephalous for drawing my attention to the Open University blog.]