International journal of lifelong education vol:22 issue:5 pages:495-517
The article examines the theory and practice of focus groups in adult education research. Three theoretical positions are described: radical hermeneutic, moderate interpretative and pragmatic realistic position trying to bridge the gap with positive research. This last position has been chosen as the departure point for a further analysis of the focus group elements, which relate to validity and reliability. The research examines four European research projects in the field of adult education. The most important and surprising data are presented with reference to both socio-psychological and technical problems in the use of this method. The results highlight the importance and dynamics of all the elements discussed.