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David L. Morgan & Kim Hoffman

In: The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Collection

Chapter 16: Focus Groups

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Focus Groups
Focus Groups
David L. MorganKim 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 to speculation, this introduction of the focus group did not ...

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