Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Rethinking the focus group in media and communications research

Lunt, P. and Livingstone, Sonia ORCID: 0000-0002-3248-9862 (1996) Rethinking the focus group in media and communications research. Journal of Communication, 46 (2). pp. 79-98. ISSN 1460-2466

Download (167kB) | Preview
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1996.tb01475.x


The focus group is a frequently used method in the social sciences. It is particularly useful when researchers seek to discover participants' meanings and ways of understanding. In this paper we relate the history of the focus group as a research tool, from its original uses by Lazarsfeld and Merton in early communications research to its decline as social science research became more strongly quantitative and experimental. We also explore the recent revival of the focus group in audience reception studies. Contemporary uses of focus groups conducted within the critical tradition are also discussed, leading to a reappraisal of the method and its appropriateness for media and communications research. It is argued that the focus group discussion should be regarded as a socially-situated communication, and the various relations this may bear towards different approaches to mass communication are discussed, together with their implications for research practice.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the Journal of communication following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version [Lunt, P. & Livingstone, S. (1996). Rethinking the focus group in media and communications research. Journal of communication 46(2), 79-98] is available online at: LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright © and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL ( of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2005
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:41

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics