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A voice without influence: The false democracy of focus groups.


There's a real exhaustion among the population with the culture of consultation. People realize that it's kind of BS, that they're not really being listened to, that it doesn't really substitute for participation, that it doesn't really substitute for power. So on the one hand the elites are tired of listening to us, but we're tired of not being meaningfully listened to.

Journalist Liza Featherstone examines the role of focus groups in American politics and commerce - as a communication ritual between capital and consumer, resembling democracy but emptied of influence, and as an increasingly contested practice as the gap between the public and elites widens beyond shouting distance.

Liza is author of Divining Desire: Focus Groups and the Culture of Consultation from OR Books.

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Liza Featherstone

Liza Featherstone is a journalist, essayist and a contributing editor to The Nation.


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