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The Search for a Method (volume I)

The Search for a Method (volume I)

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The Search for a Method (volume I)

Focus Groups and the Development of Mass Communication Research

By David E. Morrison

Publication date: 1998
Total pages: 256
ISBN: 1 86020 540 2
Price: £ 22.50


The Search for a Method covers the origins, path and practice of focus group research. It provides not only a detailed methodological critique, but also a focused look at the beginnings of modern modes of mass communication research.

The Search for a Method details the historical context of the research setting created by Lazarsfeld and shows how focus groups grew out of a tradition of quantitative as opposed to qualitative research.
The Search for a Method will be of interest to academics, practitioners and students of media related studies and social studies, but will also have a wider appeal to anyone involved in research and its methodology.


A remarkable achievement. This is a beautifully integrated volume on the contexts and beginnings of the focus group technique blending at least two knowing and engaging books, each based on extensive documentary and field research. The one book provides a penetrating biographical account of Paul Lazarsfeld’s pioneering work in communication and media research. The other provides the definitive historical account of the emergence of the focussed group interview that developed into the focus group which is widely used (and too often abused) in academe, the marketplace and the political arena, commonly for the formation of public and private policy. Morrison recognises and demonstrates that, like most scientific discoveries and technical inventions, the focus group technique was a joint product of its ultimately accredited originators and the socio-cognitive environment in which it emerged. (Granted that my opinion of this scholarly work may be affected by my place in its pages, I can truly say that this is the most deeply informed volume on its twin subjects that I know of.)

Robert K. Merton
University Professor Emeritus
Columbia University


Professor David E Morrison is Research Director of the Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds.

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