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The Search for an Understanding (volume II)

The Search for an Understanding (volume II)

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The Search for an Understanding (volume II)

Administrative Communications Research and Focus Groups in Practice

By David E. Morrison

Publication date: 2000
Total pages: 640
ISBN: 1 86020 588 7
Price: £ 45.00


The Search for an Understanding offers a series of studies undertaken for various sponsors within, or related to, the communications industry. These studies not only illustrate methodological points concerning focus group research but also provide the focus for Professor Morrison’s key argument about the importance of empirical data: unless such work is undertaken, Communications Studies risks the charge of cultural irrelevance.


The Search for an Understanding is the second volume of Professor Morrison’s trilogy (Volume 1 – The Search for Method: Focus Groups and the Development of Mass Communication Research was published in 1998) provides a detailed and fully documented account of qualitative ‘focus group research’ in action and as such is an essential volume for students, teachers, researchers and policy makers who are interested in the complexities of studying, undertaking or commissioning audience research.


Each of the seven chapters presents a detailed analysis, with extensive transcripts, of focus group discussions thereby demonstrating the significance and value of focus group research in practice. Each study includes the sponsor’s brief, with Professor Morrison’s initial response followed by a discussion of the key methodological issues to note when reading the ensuing transcripts and analysis. Areas covered include:

• The attitudes of homosexual men and women to the on-screen treatment of homosexuality

• Television viewers’ views of violence and a comparison of those views set against the television guidelines on the depiction of violence

• Voters views of the television coverage of an election – a reconvened focus group’s perceptions

• Viewers’ perception of ‘bias’ and/or impartiality across a range of programme categories on television

• Viewers responses to violence in news bulletins and documentary programmes

• Viewers views of television coverage of war (in this case the Gulf War) with special reference to children and anxiety

• Viewers subjective definitions of which representations of violent acts constitute violence or as being ‘not really violent at all’ across a wide range of films and TV programmes.


Professor David E Morrison is the Research Director of the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds.

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