How we understand and define qualitative data is changing, with implications not only for the techniques of data analysis, but also how data are collected. New devices, technologies and online spaces open up new ways for researchers to approach and collect images, moving images, text and talk. The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Collection systematically explores the approaches, techniques, debates and new frontiers for creating, collecting and producing qualitative data. Bringing together contributions from internationally leading scholars in the field, the handbook offers a state-of-the-art look at key themes across six thematic parts: Part I Charting the Routes Part II Concepts, Contexts, Basics Part III Types of Data and How to Collect Them Part IV Digital and Internet Data Part V Triangulation and Mixed Methods Part VI Collecting Data in Specific Populations

Focus Groups

David L. Morgan Kim Hoffman


The history of focus groups can be divided into three broad periods, beginning with their origin in the collaboration between Robert Merton and Paul Lazarsfeld in 1941 (for an account of this original session, see Merton, 1987). What Lazarsfeld brought to this partnership was an interest in using group discussions as data, while Merton contributed the kind of open-ended questioning that makes them recognizable as qualitative research. Merton and Lazarsfeld continued to work together on a number of war-related projects, which were reported first in an article (Merton and Kendall, 1946) and a decade later in a book (Merton et al., 1990). Yet, for reasons that are open ...

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