Focus Groups as Qualitative Research
Little Blue Book

Focus Groups as Qualitative Research

Little Blue Book
By: David L. Morgan Published: 1997 | Second Edition Edition
Methods: Focus groups
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  • Copyright
  • Series Editors' Introduction

    Only a decade ago, focus groups were virtually unknown to social scientists. Now, their use in academic settings as well as outside is vast and ever-growing. In this extensively revised and updated edition of Focus Groups as Qualitative Research, David Morgan provides an excellent guide to focus groups. He carefully considers their many uses in the research enterprise and discusses effective planning and research design for focus groups. Finally, he provides concrete and practical advice on how to conduct and analyze focus groups and considers additional possibilities.

    One of the best-selling titles in the Qualitative Research Methods series, this revision will be of value to qualitative researchers in every academic discipline as well as those in nonacademic settings.

    JohnVan MaanenPeter K.ManningMarc L.Miller
  • Preface

    Much has changed during the 10 years since I began work on the first edition of this book. The most rewarding of these changes is the fact that focus groups are now a much more widely practiced research method within the social sciences. Indeed, this increasing experience with focus groups in the social sciences is the primary reason for this new edition. Ten years ago, nearly all the recent writing on focus groups came from marketing research. Today, there is a sizable literature about focus groups in anthropology, communication studies, education, evaluation, nursing, political science, psychology, public health, sociology, and many other disciplines. Indeed, more than half the references cited in this book were published since the previous edition.

    During those 10 years, I too have been busy. In that time, I have conducted more than 20 research projects involving more than-100 focus groups, as well as leading numerous training sessions and workshops. Thinking back over these past few years makes me realize how much I owe to those who were there at the beginning: Pamela G. Smith, who first drew my attention to focus groups, and Margaret Spanish, who both assisted me with and coauthored my first work in this field. Of course, I would never have been prepared to take advantage of those opportunities without the graduate training that I received from Bill Gamson in working with groups and from the late David Street in qualitative methods.

    It takes a team of people working together to make a focus group's project succeed. It has taken many more to help focus groups become better known. I have been fortunate to have good company in sharing these tasks. One particularly pleasant aspect of my work on focus groups has been the collaboration that Richard Krueger and I have developed. Although Dick and I had never met when Sage published our two books on focus groups in 1988, we have since had many chances to talk and work together in ways that continue to be enlightening to me. Over the years, I have also benefited from repeated exchanges with my colleagues Robin Jarrett, John Knodel, and Kerth O'Brien, as well as from discussions with many other social scientists who have helped me to pursue my interest in focus groups, including Duane Alwin, Gene Anderson, Janet Mancini Billson, Linda Boise, Edgar Butler, Martha Ann Carey, Ben Crabtree, Ted Fuller, Bill Gamson, Bob Hanneman, John Kennedy, Will Miller, Jan Morse, Eliot Smith, Richard Zeller, and Mary Zinkin. I have been fortunate to work with many talented graduate students, and I especially recognize Paula Carder, Marie Duncan, Steve March, and Alice Scannell for their assistance with multiple projects over the years. In addition, like so many other Sage authors, I owe a special debt to Mitch Allen for all his assistance and insights over the years. Finally, I want to thank my wife, Susan Wladaver-Morgan, not just for her consistently professional editing of my work but also for all the many other ways in which she has supported my work.

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  • About the Author

    David L. Morgan received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan and did postdoctoral work at Indiana University. He is currently a professor in the Institute on Aging and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. His research interests center on the ways that people respond to major life changes, which has led him to study retirement communities, nursing homes, widowhood, knowledge about risk factors for heart attacks, caregiving for elderly family members, and, recently, the aging of the Baby Boom generation. When he is not conducting focus groups or writing about them, you may find him hiking in the 5,000 acres of Portland's Forest Park.