Safety talk, violence and laughter: methodological reflections on focus groups in violence research
Introduction Laughter is a mode of human expression that is rarely associated with those who are the objects of targeted violence-Likewise, laughter is not an object of study commonly found within scholarship that seeks to examine the experiences of those who live with danger from that violence and who work to produce security in both public and private spaces. However, data generated by way of a series of focus groups exploring the experiences of violence and safety of three different groups previously identified as ‘high risk’ by victim surveys (lesbians, gay men and straight women) undertaken as part of the Violence, Sexuality, Space research project,1 challenge this state of affairs. In total we conducted 35 focus group meetings. We ran groups for gay men, lesbians and straight women in each research location: Lancaster, a small city with a relatively large student population, and Manchester’s gay Village, both in the north west of England. Each group (with one exception) met on six occasions. Laughter is recorded in the transcripts of all the group meetings and is a pervasive feature of the data generated through the focus groups.