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Researching norms, narratives, and transitional justice: focus group methodology in post-conflict Croatia

Sokolić, Ivor ORCID: 0000-0003-1450-8377 (2016) Researching norms, narratives, and transitional justice: focus group methodology in post-conflict Croatia. Nationalities Papers, 44 (6). pp. 932-949. ISSN 0090-5992

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00905992.2016.1183605


This article is based on the assumption that norms can help better understand one of the expressivist aims of transitional justice, that of building a new narrative about the past. The main argument is that focus groups, as an interactive method of inquiry, are well suited to investigating how this “judicial” narrative interacts with the official and dominant war narrative in Croatia. Focus groups are more adept at this than other methodological approaches since they can effectively reflect independence of opinion; they lead to more truthful answers through spontaneity; they effectively probe taken-for-granted concepts; and they can more easily overcome distrust in post-conflict societies, especially with ex-combatants. The approach faces new challenges in such a situation since recruitment problems, insider/outsider status, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other ethical concerns, present problems that often arise due to the group process. The powerful and unpredictable effect of the group dynamic can, therefore, provide a deep exploration of social norms, but it can also cause significant upset among participants. In this instance the methodology explores how widely accepted the war narrative is, how it is constructed, and how important the public believes it is not to question it.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Association for the Study of Nationalities
Divisions: Government
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DR Balkan Peninsula
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2017 12:06
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2024 23:27

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