You have to imagine a think tank as a protected space where people are invited to express themselves completely freely on a certain topic and develop ideas together with others, says Irene Broer, who has been a research assistant at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research for several years.
For her current project on the role of public media in social cohesion, she and her colleagues organised several of these think tanks to get a deep insight into what people from different demographic groups think about the topic.
Exchanging opinions is important. In this respect, think tanks differ from classical social science methods such as surveys or participant observation. "Something completely new emerges when perspectives come together," says Irene Broer.
Another difference to other social science methods is the active participation of the researchers in the debate that arises in a think tank.
This type of research method is particularly recommended for questions in which research and practice meet and which are not only relevant for research but are also highly topical within society. Or for questions on topics where there are particularly heated debates.